A law firm has partnered with an insurance giant to come up with an app acting as a virtual legal assistant.

Alternative business structure rradar has teamed up with AXA Insurance to provide legal and risk advice through artificial intelligence. 

‘Grace’ is described as a ‘learning-driven’ app designed for business customers and powered by IBM Watson technology. Watson is a 'cognitive' computer capable of answering questions in natural language. 

The Grace app will initially be available for AXA customers who have registered online and will apply to HR practice and employment law.

The app is designed so the more it is used the more intelligent it becomes. Users can have their legal questions answered either by typing it on screen or asking ‘Grace’ a verbal question.

Humberside-based rradar will provide video content, online training and documents to build the knowledge stored on the app.

Dougie Barnett, head of customer risk management for AXA, said the technology is intended to reach out to small businesses that may feel priced out of accessing legal services.

He said: ‘Traditionally, good legal advice is costly and for many small businesses, difficult to access but with the rradar ”Grace” app, we are demystifying and simplifying the process by helping and educating our customers through their smartphones to prevent issues happening in the first place whilst still being there should the worst happen.’

The app will soon include modules on health and safety law, corporate manslaughter, property law, environmental law, waste management duties and contract law, Barnett said. 

Gary Gallen, chief executive and founder of rradar, said the app has the potential to be the ‘first truly disruptive application of technology in legal services. Almost every other profession or industry has adapted and benefited from the rapid development of technology but to date, the legal profession has remained largely removed,’ he said.

‘The introduction of Grace will bring legal expertise direct to those small businesses that need it most and I believe that this is just the start of a broader revolution of how legal advice is accessed and administered.’