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Artificial intelligence set to free solicitors from lower-level work: SRA

Artificial intelligence (AI) will free up solicitors from lower-level work to carry out more complex tasks, a new report from the Solicitors Regulation Authority has said.

The report, Technology and legal services, suggests that rapid developments in AI will mostly be focused on back-office functions.

“This will allow solicitors to focus on more complex parts of a case or increase their capacity to engage with clients and potential clients,” the SRA said.

“Using AI for legal services could also see firms reduce their costs as overheads for ‘virtual’ parts of a business are lower. And attitudes about using new technology will change as it becomes more commonplace.”

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The SRA paper also considered the quality of legal work carried out by computers. It found that while it was not 100% accurate in various tests, it had never proven any less accurate than work carried out by humans.

“In some cases, it was more so. However, while in one test it took real-life lawyers 92 minutes to complete a task, AI finished the job in 26 seconds,” the SRA said.

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “There is no doubt that new technology has already improved the way legal services work. Latest surveys show that 30% of legal work is now delivered online and the business use of emails has sped up many tasks.

“Our report highlights the potential for technology to add further value in the workplace and we are looking further at how AI can enable the provision of high-quality legal services through the government Pioneer Fund award. Many firms are already exploring the possibilities and I would urge all law firms to consider how technology can help you and your business.”

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