Shropshire Star

Law firm trials AI in pioneering research project

A leading Midlands law firm is trialling the use of artificial intelligence (AI) as part of a pioneering nationwide research project to assess how it might shape the future of the legal sector.

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Stephen Burke, partner in the commercial property department is leading the FBC Manby Bowdler team in the Technology in Professional Services (TiPS) project examining the way AI might be used in the legal

FBC Manby Bowdler is one of just eight firms across the country exploring the potential benefits of AI for the eight-month project being run by Lancaster University.

The firm – which has offices across Shropshire, the Black Country and Worcestershire– is using AI software to see if it can help save time and clients’ money during leasehold property deals.

The seven other firms taking part in the Technology in Professional Services (TiPS) project will each examine the way AI might be used in a different part of the legal sector.

FBC Manby Bowdler managing partner Neil Lloyd said the firm was using digital software called Orbital Witness Copilot to read leases and then generate a lease report for them.

“This is a really exciting project to test out this software and see exactly what it can do. To have been selected as one of just eight firms taking part in this groundbreaking work is a great honour.

“Stephen Burke, a partner in our commercial property department, is leading our team for the project, which is using the software for both commercial and residential reports and then working with a researcher from Lancaster University to assess the results.

“Work which was previously taking two or three hours can now be generated in minutes, though clearly everything must then be checked over thoroughly by our expert team. AI is advancing all the time and is clearly going to play a huge part in all our professional lives in the coming years.

“All eight law firms will share their findings at the end of the project and there should be a great opportunity to see how we can all learn from our experiences in the way we use AI in the future.”

Neil said working more efficiently – and being able to save clients’ money as a result – was an obvious potential advantage of the new technology.

“If we can work more efficiently we can create extra capacity to serve more clients, which is good for everybody. This is not about replacing solicitors or handing control over to machines, but about implementing new technology in a way which benefits our staff and clients and protects the quality of all the work we do.

‘There are a number of areas I think AI can play a very useful role in as it develops and as a forward-thinking and ambitious law firm, we are delighted to be at the forefront of this hugely important research work.”

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