The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace is gaining momentum, with significant advancements such as the introduction of innovative tools like Microsoft’s Copilot, ChatGPT, and Google’s Bard. These developments have far-reaching implications, including for the legal sector and specifically for conveyancing.

The legal sector has already witnessed successful applications of AI. Currently, one of the most widely embraced uses of AI in the legal industry is in the client onboarding process. Machine learning algorithms can efficiently validate a client’s identification by checking documents and recognizing images, thereby identifying potential fraudulent IDs. By delegating this crucial yet straightforward task to AI, lawyers and compliance teams can save significant time previously spent on administrative duties.

Furthermore, voice recognition software has eliminated the need for extensive secretarial support in dictation. Lawyers can now dictate their thoughts, and the words seamlessly appear on the screen. The software learns and improves accuracy with continued usage, enabling faster and easier generation of letters. This technology has become increasingly popular, particularly with the rise of remote working, and approximately 82% of law firms have expressed their intention to invest in speech recognition technology in the near future.

In the context of conveyancing, automation has made strides in simplifying key documents. Some computer systems have been programmed to recognise and automatically fill in standard legal documents such as “fixtures and fittings” forms or documents requiring address matches. While seemingly simple, these tasks save valuable hours of administrative work for lawyers and support staff.

One notable AI implementation in the legal sector is Allen & Overy‘s introduction of a chatbot named ‘Harvey,’ similar to ChatGPT. Harvey has been deployed globally within their offices and reportedly performs contract analysis, due diligence, and regulatory compliance.

However, it’s important to acknowledge the current limitations of AI, which is still evolving. Chatbots like ChatGPT and Google Bard are not yet fully optimised for the legal sector. Their responses lack nuance and depth due to the absence of human experience gained from years of transactional work. Additionally, some of their answers may be based on outdated information since the data used to train these AI models is only as recent as 2021. ChatGPT itself acknowledges its limitations by stating, “While I strive to provide accurate and helpful information, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or reliability of my responses.”

Nonetheless, AI’s potential should not be discounted. Generative AI, like ChatGPT, can be useful for addressing basic common inquiries or drafting skeleton documents. However, many law firms already possess such precedents in place, rendering this alone as an incremental advancement.

When considering the integration of AI in conveyancing, it’s crucial to differentiate between branded technology, such as ‘Harvey,’ and Open AI sources like the current version of ChatGPT. Utilising Open AI sources poses inherent challenges, particularly for the legal industry, as there is a risk of data breaches and breaches of confidentiality. These technologies continuously learn from user input, meaning that if any sensitive data is inputted by someone in an organisation, ChatGPT may use that confidential information to answer another user’s question. Concerns about data breaches have prompted lawyers at Amazon to caution employees against this practice.

Looking toward the future, AI holds significant potential to expedite the conveyancing process and alleviate the workload burden on conveyancers. It can handle laborious administrative tasks and automate repetitive operations, leading to more enjoyable work and increased profitability. One anticipated development is the wider adoption of ChatGPT-style technology to address common administrative queries that often cause delays in the conveyancing process. This advancement seems imminent.

Integrated systems like Microsoft’s Copilot, which incorporates GPT4 technology into various Microsoft applications, can further enhance the capabilities of AI. Copilot facilitates scanning and analysis of extensive amounts of data, providing accurate answers. This can greatly assist conveyancers in complex deals where proposals need to be generated based on spreadsheet data or PowerPoint presentations need to be created using information from Word documents.

Eventually, AI is expected to be capable of raising enquiries. The software can learn about title information and analyse text and data from searches and mortgage lender handbooks. Armed with this information, it can generate enquiries for the seller, speeding up the process and serving as a valuable “second pair of eyes.”

It is important to note that AI developments will not replace lawyers anytime soon. However, they can significantly enhance the job by alleviating cumbersome administrative tasks that impede legal work and slow down processes. Conveyancers who embrace AI early on will be at the forefront as the technology continues to evolve, potentially shaping the profitability and reputation of their practices.

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