15:43, January 16 422 0 abajournal.com

2018-01-16 15:43:05
Pittsburgh firms team up to offer AI contract review software to clients

Two Pittsburgh-based businesses—the law firm Horty, Springer, & Mattern and legal tech company LegalSifter—are teaming up to provide clients with new artificial intelligence contract review software.

“It’s the next logical step in the use of artificial intelligence in the legal profession,” Dan Mulholland, senior partner at Horty Springer, says in a release. “Clients would like a legal review of every contract they sign, but to do so the review has to be affordable and aligned with the speed of business. Artificial intelligence, with embedded guidance designed by lawyers, is the only way to make that consistently possible.”

Starting in a few weeks, a subscription service will be available to clients who want to use the online software.

To work, LegalSifter combines two forms of artificial intelligence. First, the program uses natural language processing to read contracts for particular terms and clauses. Once the software has flagged appropriate sections of the contract, it places pre-programmed comments or preferred terms from Horty Springer attorneys.

Once those recommendations are made, explains Mulholland, he can make the changes through Microsoft Word. The whole process, he says, takes about seven minutes, saving his firm money and time on their fixed-fee contracts.

Lars Mahler, co-founder and chief science officer at LegalSifter, explains that the machine learning component is built off of a support vector machine model, which works well for text classification problems, like finding terms in a contract, and can be built competently on smaller datasets than data-hungry neural net models, for example.

Kevin Miller, LegalSifter CEO, says in an interview that each “Sifter,” which works to find a discreet issue in a contract, is usually built on 500 or more examples that teaches the system what its looking for.

“In every contract negotiation in the world, at least one party works off the other party’s paper,” said Miller in the release. “It’s difficult to read someone else’s writing and apply your point of view without unnecessarily missing a critical term. Our partnership launches a product that makes that process faster and less risky.”

Miller told the ABA Journal that he is cautious when promising what his software, and AI generally, can accomplish. “This technology is really smart and really dumb,” he says.

Miller describes this software as a compliment to a lawyer’s existing capacity. He says AI is an impractical replacement for lawyers because the practice of law is too complex, empathetic and contextual.

Working with hospitals and health care systems, Horty Springer’s use of the software will first be applied to business associate agreements required under the HIPAA privacy law, according to the press release.

As the project is rolled out, the firm expects to include practitioner employment agreements, non-disclosure agreements, software end-user license agreements and supplier terms and conditions, among others.

LegalSifter has similar partnerships with U.K.-based firm TLT LLP and Puerto Rico-based law firm Estrella, LLC. Last year, LegalSifter closed a $1.86 million seed round anchored by Birchmere Ventures in Pittsburgh.

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