Deloitte Legal Holds AI Challenge To ‘Understand’ Legislation

Deloitte Legal and TNW (The Next Web) have co-hosted a workshop in London this week to answer the question: ‘How can we make computers understand written laws?‘ The project saw six start-ups and more developed AI companies from around the world invited to show off what they could do with NLP and cognitive computing in terms of reading and analysing legislation.

The AI companies were:

Cortical – (from Austria)

Cinnamon – (from Japan and Vietnam)

Legal Robot – (from the US)

Judicata – (from the US)

Ayfie – (global)

Leverton – (Germany)

‘The all-day event in London, in front of an audience of senior legal stakeholders from across the UK and Europe, gave [them] the opportunity to showcase their ideas about how to harness the power of natural language processing, Legal Tech and cognitive computing in order to understand written laws better, and with more efficiency,’ said Deloitte and TNW in a statement.

Michael Castle, managing partner of Deloitte Legal and chair of the event, said: ‘Technological developments in areas such as natural language processing, cognitive computing and document digitisation have accelerated significantly in recent years. We have now reached a point where artificial intelligence can help law firms and legal professionals perform complex, labour-intensive tasks with much more efficiency, freeing up valuable time for more skilled tasks.’

‘Legal Tech is still developing, and so there is an awful lot we can learn from the start-up community about how to effectively use artificial intelligence, deep learning and machine learning to develop high quality and relevant legal applications,’ he added.

Deloitte also explained that although several companies took part there will be no ‘winner’ as such. However, they added, the Big Four firm ‘may end up progressing conversations’ with one or more of them.

Peter Richards, SVP Business Development EMEA, at Ayfie, told Artificial Lawyer: ‘Deloitte Legal’s event was fascinating as you were able to interact with a variety of departments and offices. Likewise it was interesting to learn about other legal tech solutions from places like Japan and Silicon Valley.’

‘Deloitte, like most companies adopting legal tech are looking for ways to use AI to reduce the amount of repetitive work done by lawyers in analysing documents. They’re also interested in improving the ability to monitor changes in laws and the impact of them,’ he added.

So, what does this all mean?

First it shows that Deloitte, along with its Legal arm, is increasingly interested in the use of AI technology, especially the NLP aspects of it. So, that’s good to see. Deloitte Legal in Spain is now working with Luminance, and Kira Systems has a very long-standing relationship with Deloitte as well.

The second aspect is the broad range of AI applications that came along – that in itself shows how far NLP tech has spread. The fact that a company that has two offices in Vietnam turned up is really impressive. Artificial Lawyer knew about legal AI companies just in Japan, but not yet in Vietnam. Further proof that technology knows no boundaries.

The third point is that this is not focused on transactional doc review, as many NLP applications are, but legislative analysis. Deloitte Legal’s group in China has already experimented in this area and Artificial Lawyer wrote about it in February last year.

What Deloitte will do with the capability – once developed more broadly – is not known, but clearly there are client applications to being able to rapidly read and analyse old and new legislation around the world.

That ability could be tied to rapid advisory updates, a type of warning system, and more bespoke applications related to regulatory compliance.

And, overall, when the Big Four get excited about something then we should all take notice, because these firms have such huge scale and client connections. Interesting times.

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