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Allen & Overy hires chatbot lawyer, ‘Harvey’

Global law firm Allen & Overy is partnering with “Harvey”, an artificial intelligence platform, to assist its thousands of legal professionals across the world.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 20 February 2023 Big Law
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What is Harvey?

ChatGPT is all the rage right now, with professional services sectors like law abuzz with debate about how such artificial intelligence (AI) can and will impact daily work functions. You can read Lawyers Weekly’s full coverage of ChatGPT and how it will impact the Australian market, here.

And now, at least one BigLaw firm is leaning into this evolution. 


A&O has integrated “Harvey” — an artificial intelligence platform built on a version of Open AI’s latest models enhanced for legal work — into its offices globally.

The firm started trialling Harvey in beta since late last year, and — by the end of that trial — its lawyers had asked the platform approximately 40,000 queries pertaining to their daily legal functions.

Harvey is, A&O said in a statement, an intuitive platform that uses natural language processing, machine learning and data analytics to automate and enhance various aspects of legal work, such as contract analysis, due diligence, litigation and regulatory compliance.

The platform is set to support the more than 3,500 lawyers working for A&O across its 43 offices.

And while “the output needs careful review” by lawyers working at the firm, Harvey is still in a position to help generate insights, recommendations and predictions based on large volumes of data, enabling lawyers to deliver faster, smarter and more cost-effective solutions to their clients, the firm declared.

Harvey received seed funding from the OpenAI Startup Fund, which was founded by a team of former lawyers, engineers and entrepreneurs who, A&O said, “share a vision of transforming the legal industry with technology”. 

OpenAI chief operating officer and OpenAI Startup Fund manager Brad Lightcap said that the company invested in Harvey because it believes that AI “can have a profound impact” on legal processes and that their proprietary platform will fundamentally change the way lawyers spend their time.

“The fact that A&O witnessed the benefits and level of engagement within a few short months is testament to what [the team has] built,” he declared.

Allen & Overy’s experience

A&O head of markets innovation David Wakeling said: “I have been at the forefront of legal tech for 15 years, but I have never seen anything like Harvey.

“It is a game-changer that can unleash the power of generative AI to transform the legal industry.

“Harvey can work in multiple languages and across diverse practice areas, delivering unprecedented efficiency and intelligence. In our trial, we saw some amazing results.”

In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, David Jenaway — the managing partner in Perth for A&O — said that Australian lawyers at the firm are joining their colleagues around the world in using Harvey.

“Our litigation team has been experimenting with the Harvey platform to identify and summarise common procedural requirements. I can see the potential — freeing us up to spend more of our time and brainpower on the solutions that drive value for our clients,” he said.

“Ground-breaking AI technology will transform the work done by law firms — eventually, lawyers everywhere will use it to make their day-to-day baseline work more efficient and spend more time where their focus is needed most.”

“Our team at A&O is proud to be at the cutting edge of this technology with a platform enhanced for legal work.”

Mr Jenaway went on to say that Harvey is demonstrating “unexpected benefits”.

“We are uncovering better ways to use it every day as we experiment with its possibilities. It has fantastic potential, accelerating us into being able to focus on solving our client’s problems,” he detailed.

“We have found ways that it will be helpful in drafting procedural and standard forms that are often common in litigation matters. Harvey helps us shortcut the time-consuming parts and lets the team focus on the legal solution.”

And, when it comes to the Asia-Pacific region, the firm said that it is “committed to unlocking” Harvey’s full potential, particularly with regard to tasks that tie up significant valuable time.

A&O Singapore joint office managing partner Tim Beech said: “Many of our matters in Asia-Pacific involve lots of jurisdictions with different rules and regulations.

“With the power of Harvey on our side, we can devote more energy and resources towards finding cost-effective legal solutions for our regional clients than ever before, without sacrificing quality.”

Further thoughts

A&O senior partner Wim Dejonghe proclaimed that the global firm’s use of Harvey “marks a new era” for the firm and also for the legal profession.

“Harvey AI is not just another platform, but a game-changer that will enable us to deliver unprecedented value, efficiency and innovation to our clients,” he said.

“We are proud to be the first law firm to partner with Harvey AI. We share their vision of using technology to enhance and transform legal services.”

Harvey co-founder Gabriel Pereyra added: “We are honoured and excited to partner with A&O. Their global presence, tradition of excellence and rapid adoption will allow us to safely develop and deploy cutting-edge legal AI to the most complex legal work across every practice area and legal system in the world.”