More and more lawyers at big law firms are using generative AI tools, which are getting better and better quickly. On Wednesday, legal AI company Harvey announced that it had raised $21 million from investors.

Sequoia Capital, which is leading the Series A fundraising round, said that more than 15,000 law companies are waiting to start using Harvey. Harvey said that OpenAI Startup Fund, Conviction, SV Angel, and Elad Gil also gave money as part of the funding round.

Harvey was started in 2022 and is based on the big language model GPT-4 from OpenAI. Last year, the OpenAI Startup Fund led a round that raised $5 million for Harvey. The company says that it makes big language models for law firms that are made to order.

Since Microsoft’s OpenAI’s ChatGPT came out in November, tech companies and investors have been rushing to adopt big language model-based generative AI. The models are trained on big data sets that can be changed to make text or other outputs that are similar to how humans think and work. Last month, researchers used GPT-4 to pass the bar test.

In February, the global law company Allen & Overy said that 3,500 lawyers and staff would use Harvey to automate some document writing and research.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, a big accounting firm, said in March that it would let 4,000 lawyers use the app.

Legal AI race draws more investors as law firms line up | Reuters

Gabriel Pereyra, who helped start Harvey, and people from Sequoia did not answer requests for comment on Wednesday.
In the past few months, several other big companies have signed contracts to use new AI products. This is a fast rate for a field that was slow to get rid of the fax machine.

“This is an arms race, and you don’t want to be the last law firm with these tools,” said Daniel Tobey, chair of DLA Piper’s AI practice. “Becoming a dinosaur is very easy these days.”

DLA Piper is one of several big firms that have said they will use a new AI tool from legal research company Casetext. Casetext is one of a growing number of established legal technology companies that have rushed to release generative AI-powered tools.

Casetext’s AI legal assistant, CoCounsel, was released in March. It uses GPT-4 to speed up jobs like legal research, contract analysis, and document review.

Also using CoCounsel are the law groups Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, which has about 1,150 lawyers, and Fisher Phillips, which has more than 500 lawyers.

Some companies are building up their own skills. Partner Josias Dewey said that Holland & Knight is making an AI tool that it thinks will help lawyers review and change credit agreements.

Danielle Benecke, head of the firm’s machine learning group, says that big language models have been added to existing services on a “pilot” basis for each client.

Even law firms that are early adopters of AI are quick to say that testing and rules are needed to protect private client data and prevent mistakes. However, others are still deciding how and whether to use the technology.

Reed Smith’s chief innovation officer, David Cunningham, said, “We’re being careful and thoughtful, but we know that we expect it to be a big deal and that we will use it.”

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