Lawyers on the automation chopping block as AI gets its JD

This early stage startup's AI platform reads, writes, problem solves, and reasons like a lawyer.

An early-stage startup is attempting to take AI and process automation to the legal sector, long the domain of exquisitely schooled, well-compensated attorneys. Described as a virtual lawyer, the AI platform from McCarthyFinch is designed to be adaptable to an array of legal processes, including financial compliance and contract automation.

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The company is capitalizing on growing interest in AI and the law. Lawyers spend tremendous amounts of time reviewing documents and making correlations, and even the best practitioners make mistakes.

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Earlier this year, LawGeex, another AI firm specializing in contract automation, pitted 20 experienced attorneys against a three-year-old contract automation algorithm. The algorithm performed more accurately and efficiently than the humans.

McCarthyFinch's platform leverages AI and deep learning to approach complex legal tasks. The company appeared earlier this month at TechCrunch Disrupt's SF Battlefield. (Another AI company, Forethought, won the competition for its enterprise search solution.)

"Our AI platform learns up to 100 times faster than traditional AI using far smaller data sets," explains Nick Whitehouse, CEO and co-founder of McCarthyFinch. "Most importantly, its results are entirely explainable, defensible, and trustworthy."

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That's a necessity in an industry where a single error could mean a lost opportunity or liability disaster.

Among the tasks the company's AI can perform are contract favorability review, in which contracts are broken down into different clauses and sections and analyzed to determine if each is in the client's favor, settlement insight, which extracts settlement values from thousands of agreements across the U.S. to determine comps, and M&A insights, wherein past mergers and acquisitions are used to advise clients on various points of a transaction, including negotiations.

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At one firm using the platform, according to a McCarthyFinch representative, junior legal work was reduced by 99 percent.

The young company seems primed for bigger attention with some key early adopters, and it's in partnership talks with firms like Deloitte.

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