OpenAI-backed startup brings chatbot technology to first major law firm

  • Allen & Overy partners with legal startup Harvey
  • Harvey received $5 million in a funding round led by the OpenAI Startup Fund last year

(Reuters) – Harvey AI, an artificial intelligence startup backed by an OpenAI-managed investment fund, has partnered with one of the world’s largest law firms to automate some legal document drafting and research in what the company says could be the first of more such deals.

London-founded law firm Allen & Overy said Wednesday that more than 3,500 of its lawyers had already tested Harvey, which was adapted from OpenAI’s GPT software.

Harvey received a $5 million investment last year in a funding round led by the OpenAI Startup Fund. OpenAI’s ChatGPT service has sparked frenzied interest in a technology called generative AI that uses a range of inputs to create new content.

Several legal technology companies in recent months have rolled out new tools that incorporate generative AI, including for drafting and reviewing contracts.

“I think over time it will be a serious competitive disadvantage” for law firms that do not adopt generative AI, said David Wakeling, an Allen & Overy partner who heads its markets innovation group.

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“We’re seeing it as a way of saving our people a couple hours a week-plus” at the time it takes to perform client work, he said about the firm’s deal with Harvey. He said the technology serves as a starting point and a human lawyer will always check any AI-assisted work.

Allen & Overy and Harvey, which was founded last year, declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Harvey is designed to create tailored generative AI-driven products for different law firms and specific client matters, according to its founders, Gabriel Pereyra and Winston Weinberg.

Allen & Overy is the first law firm to partner with Harvey, but the company is starting to work with other big law firms to develop custom tools, said Pereyra, a former research scientist at companies including Meta Platforms Inc and Alphabet Inc-owned DeepMind Technologies Ltd. He declined to disclose the firms.

Weinberg, who was previously an associate at US law firm O’Melveny & Myers, said the repetition and text-based learning involved in legal work makes it a good match for technology like Harvey’s.

NOTE: This story was updated to clarify that funding for Harvey AI came from the OpenAI Startup Fund.

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Sara Merken

Thomson Reuters

Sara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as the business of law, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Reach her at [email protected]

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