Government pumps £6m into legal AI and analytics projects

DLA Piper: Funding for ‘AI microservices’ in workflow software

The government has awarded grants totalling over £6.4m to 18 legal artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics projects.

The projects span the whole range of legal services, from City law firm DLA Piper and private client specialists Withers to consumer forum Legal Beagles and Islington Citizens Advice Bureau.

The biggest grant of £1.53m from the Next Generation Services Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund went to a project focusing on the acquisition of confidential data. The project partners include Withers, Imperial College in London, Oxford University and Genie AI.

The second biggest, £1.36m, went to help develop AI software that “detects and interprets emotion and linguistics from voice” to combat insurance fraud through “credibility/vulnerability assessment”. The project partners are Intelligent Voice, Strenuus and the University of East London.

A total of 16 other legal projects were awarded sums of up to £350,000 by UK Research and Innovation, which administers the fund.

These included £262,000 for consumer website and forum Legal Beagles and IBM, working together on ways of using AI to “predict best routes for consumers to find solutions to legal issues” and “locate legal knowledge faster, identify new patterns and trends, whilst at the same time helping consumers with their legal issues”.

A project on affordable legal advice, involving the Royal Courts of Justice, Solicitors Pro Bono Group and Islington Citizens Advice Bureau among others, was awarded £182,000.

The project aims to “explore both the possibility of advice charities sharing data to understand their user’s journeys and where users would benefit from being guided into the wider legal services market”.

Litigation analytics start-up Solomonic and Warwick Business School were awarded £309,000 to “investigate the feasibility of applying machine learning algorithms to the large-scale collection of accurate data from court documents”.

Solomonic also announced this week that City firm Herbert Smith Freehills had agreed a deal to roll out its litigation analytics platform across their UK disputes team.

Meanwhile, national firm Weightmans and software firm Frontier Labs were awarded £166,000 for a project using AI to create a system that “augments and guides legal experts when forecasting the reserve costs associated with personal injury matters”.

A spokesman for Weightmans said: “Reserving is currently conducted on an individual basis by a case handler, but this is not an exact science and relies heavily on a case handler’s experience.”

Two of the successful projects were property-related. The Land Registry, together with Southampton University and Orbital Witness, are involved in a project to use AI to “extract and analyse legal rights and obligations” related to property and land.

“The project lead will use this information to support the creation of ‘legal risk scores’ (similar to credit risk scores) for all property and land, revolutionising real estate practice in the legal and insurance sectors.”

This project was awarded £313,000, while a second property project, led by Keele University and Teal Legal – a business that leverages technology to develop next generation legal solutions – was given £137,000 to examine how AI could improve the ‘decision’ stage of the conveyancing process.

Meanwhile in the insurance world, City firm Kennedys and Chrysalis Analytics were awarded £255,000 to produce a tool which helped insurers draft “consistent new policies and/or additional clauses to existing policies without reliance on lawyers”.

DLA Piper and deal platform Legatics received £173,000 for their project to build ‘AI microservices’ into their existing workflow software.

Other successful projects were:

  • Plans to automate review collateral warranties in construction contracts (£280,000) by project partners Beale & Co Solicitors and Swansea University;
  • Plans to create a “machine-supported ‘second opinion’ during emotional and difficult negotiations” in family law by communication tracking and management platform Transparently (£138,000); and
  • A legal contracts management system for SMEs by law firm Moorcrofts and Oxford Brookes University (£304,000).

Gideon Cohen, one of the founders of Solomonic, is a speaker at the Legal Futures Civil Litigation Conference on 19 March in London, joining a session on the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning on litigation. Click here for all the details.

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