International firm Reed Smith expects to make greater use of artificial intelligence technology for transactional work following a successful pilot in its London office.

After using AI technology for a real estate matter, chief knowledge officer Lucy Dillon (pictured) said the firm will definitely be using it again.

‘I think we will be using [the technology] more widely as it lends itself to any transaction where you are reviewing large reams of documents,’ she added.

The firm tested a ‘cognitive computing platform’ developed by software provider RAVN Systems. The software was used to read, interpret and extract key provisions from a client’s leases. It then produced a review identifying higher-risk leases that required further inspection.

The platform was used for a case the firm had already worked on, enabling the team to know whether the technology worked.

Recalling use of a similar tool at her previous firm, Dillon said: ‘What the lawyers told me was that, at the beginning, they were very careful to check everything. But as they got used to how the tool worked, they were checking less and less because they were very confident with what the tool was doing and that it was extracting the correct information.’

The use of AI technology in law firms will become the norm, Dillon predicted.

‘For the type of work we do, where we are reviewing large swaths of documents for clients, clients are driving the price,’ she said. ‘What we need to do is balance up the costs and accuracy versus against having lots of people doing that work.’

However, Dillon insists AI technology will not replace lawyers.

’This is moving a step up,’ she said. ‘Rather than reviewing documents, we’re checking what the reviewer has done. It just so happens the reviewer is a piece of technology.

‘Technology is by no means perfect. If you talk to any provider they will say it’s a machine – you teach it to do something, it will do it. But it has no sophistication in seeing nuance. That’s why you still need a lawyer.’