Law and venture capital firms team to apply AI to legal services

$NZ2m co-investment at pre-seed stage

Law firm MinterEllisonRuddWatts has teamed up with venture capital firm, Goat Ventures, to form a joint venture to explore the application of artificial intelligence to legal services.

The as yet un-named JV is billed as “a $NZ2m co-investment at pre-seed stage.” However, Goat Ventures’ CEO and a board member of the JV, Shaveer Mirpuri, said the plan was to “create a credible and global AI business you would be hard pressed to find in Silicon Valley.”

According to MinterEllisonRuddWatts, legal services are well suited to AI. “To date major firms have invested in traditional technical means of drafting simple documents and automating legal processes,” it said. “AI gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed meaning more complex tasks, historically performed by lawyers, could be automated.”

MinterEllisonRuddWatts CEO and chair of the JV, Mike Schubert, said businesses were looking for new ways to meet their legal obligations efficiently. “We believe it’s time to introduce new technology into the legal services market to meet this need.”

However the use of AI in legal practice may already be well advanced. Computerworld Australia reported Adrian Turner, the CEO of Australia’s government-owned IT research body, Data61, telling a Gartner conference in Sydney last month that Data 61 had already successfully applied machine learning and analytics to regulation and law.

“We can understand any piece of regulation or law, break it down into machine-readable graphics and expose all that through a series of APIs,” he said. “We are already trialling it in multi jurisdictional trade.”

MinterEllisonRuddWatts said the JV had already attracted four AI PhDs “who have all cut their teeth in commercial organisations such as Microsoft HQ (in the US), Xero and Spark,” despite what it said was “a limited pool of AI talent in New Zealand.”

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