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Law firm invests in AI to replace lawyers

NZN 28/02/2017 Sophie Boot

Law firm MinterEllisonRuddWatts has invested $2 million in a joint venture exploring the potential use of artificial intelligence for legal services.

Chief executive Mike Schubert, who is chair of the joint venture with angel investor Goat Ventures, said the company wants to introduce new technology into the legal services market.

Law firms have already been investing in automated drafting of simple documents and legal services are well-suited to artificial intelligence, which could be used for complex tasks historically performed by lawyers, the company said.

The joint venture has employed four artificial intelligence PhD holders who have experience at organisations such as Microsoft, Xero and Spark.

"Like other organisations looking at how to use disruptive technologies to make a step change, MinterEllisonRuddWatts has chosen to start with a blank sheet, away from legacy structures and practices in its core business," the law firm said.

Goat Ventures, which was spun out of Rush Digital, has major stakeholders including Stephen Tindall's K1W1, VMG Ventures, and long-term angel investor Ray Thomson.

Chief executive Shaveer Mirpuri said the partnership with Minter Ellison provides legal expertise, and they plan "to create a credible and global AI business you would be hard pressed to find in Silicon Valley".

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