Law firms adopt AI legal research tool

Clayton Utz and Holding Redlich have become the first Australian law firms to adopt a generative AI solution for legal research.

Lexis+AI, a product from global information and analytics provider LexisNexis, will give lawyers access to the LexisNexis database of legislation, case law and commentary through its conversational AI assistant.

Clayton Utz Chief Executive Partner Emma Covacevich said the firm helped test and develop the product, and was now adopting Lexis+AI for day-to-day use.

“AI continues to be a real opportunity for law firms - and indeed all businesses - to rethink the way we offer our services,” Ms Covacevich said.

“Products like Lexis+AI, when deployed with appropriate use guardrails, offer efficiencies that haven't previously been possible. And while no AI solution is perfect, the rapid advancements in this space are exciting.”

Built on Anthropic’s Claude 2 LLM and OpenAI’s GPT-4 and trained on LexisNexis’ extensive repository of 1.23 million court opinions, statutes, filings, and secondary materials, Lexis+ AI is designed to automatically generate various legal documents. The platform also ensures that human oversight remains integral, with users required to review and adjust the AI-generated drafts.

Greg Dickason, Managing Director at LexisNexis Asia Pacific, said: “We’re thrilled to bring this transformative technology to our Australian customers. The Lexis+ AI solution is a proven first-of-its-kind tool for lawyers and will dramatically improve the speed, quality, and effectiveness of their practice and business regardless of where and how they practice law.

“Lexis+ AI safeguards against the two greatest risks of applying generative AI to the legal sector: infringing client confidentiality and producing legal documents that reference inexistent statutes or case law. Prompts are encrypted and the model does not learn from them. They are also deleted so IP is protected,” he said.

Lexis+ AI also mitigates against the risk of generating court fillings containing hallucinated precedents. After generating a court document, Lexis+ AI validates its citations against its entire database of primary and analytical content.   

Generative artificial intelligence tools designed for the legal industry make up false or misleading information between 17 per cent and 33 per cent of the time, a Stanford University study has found.

The academic paper claims to be the first systematic assessment of leading AI tools for legal research tasks, which allow lawyers to interrogate large databases of legislation, case law and legal commentary by putting questions to an AI-powered chatbot.

Keren Smith, Chief Knowledge Officer at Holding Redlich, is excited about the future of legal research technology.

“Lexis+ AI capabilities, including conversational search, insightful summarisation, and intelligent document drafting, will not only expedite research processes but also help to deliver efficiencies and effectiveness for legal practitioners,” Ms Smith said.

“The case summary feature significantly expedites our research, allowing lawyers to quickly identify relevant cases and avoid irrelevant ones. This alone has the potential to save significant amounts of time. Last week, one of our lawyers spent four and a half hours completing a legal research task using traditional research methods. Using Lexis+ AI, he was able to replicate that same task in 30 minutes.”

In October, Holding Redlich hosted a Turing test demonstrating that Lexis Argument Analyser, an extractive AI feature could outperform human capability in suggesting relevant case law to strengthen legal submissions. The firm’s Tech-a-Thon sessions in 2023 provided valuable insights into the capabilities and potential of AI-driven legal research.

“However, to get the most from Lexis+ AI, or any other generative AI legal research tool, you still need to be a legal professional. Used correctly, these tools will free up time for lawyers to focus on other important tasks such as building their client base.

“It is an excellent starting point, but lawyers still need to read cases and apply the same standard of due diligence such as checking accuracy of footnotes and citations as they would with traditional legal research.”