Artificial Intelligence comes to the law

20 June 2014

INNOVATIVE east coast firm Plexus has unveiled what it says is the nation’s first commercial use of artificial intelligence to provide legal services.

In the first of what is intended to be a series of fully automated products, Plexus has developed an online service in which businesses running trade promotions can obtain advice about all legal requirements without talking to a lawyer.

While Slater & Gordon has developed a similar product that deals with unfair dismissals, that system leads to a traditional face-to-face interview with a solicitor. The Plexus product [Promotion Wizard] is entirely computer-based.

“I think on the whole, lawyers and clients will be great winners from this,” said Plexus managing director Andrew Mellett.

The service is targeted at a niche market of companies that are repeat users of trade promotions and is faster and cheaper than obtaining legal advice using traditional methods.

Behind the computerised interface with clients, Plexus lawyers and software developers have built a system that takes account of relevant laws and regulations.

“Our lawyers designed the system. It’s a really interesting legal career path — we are merging IT essentially with legal and creating some really interesting opportunities,” Mr Mellett said.

“They designed it and they audit it — we have to make sure that the regulations are consistently up to date and ensure the product is delivering the outcomes that comply with the law,”

He said the traditional method of obtaining sufficient legal advice to put on a trade promotion would take four to six weeks and several conversations between client and lawyer.

While the cost under the traditional method could run to thousands of dollars, he said the Plexus system meant a non-lawyer would be able to generate a legal solution in 10 minutes at what Plexus estimates would be about 20-30 per cent of the cost of the traditional method.

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Originally published in The Australian by Chris Merritt.

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