collaborative conveyancing

AI: What does it mean for conveyancing? | Collaborative Conveyancing

By putting those at the cutting edge of innovation in the artificial intelligence (AI) arena under the microscope, a clearer view of how AI might influence conveyancing both now and in years to come will emerge.

Orbital Witness, who are automating leasehold title checks as part of an effort to cut the time conveyancers spend on property diligence, told all in the last iteration of this column.

Here, we look at Collaborative Conveyancing, who have set out to tackle the conveyancing enquiries conundrum through the use of artificial intelligence.

Who are Collaborative Conveyancing?

Collaborative Conveyancing are an innovative, UK-based, technology company founded in 2022.

Founders Chris Harris and Karen Babington have a successful track record of setting up and building companies that supply services to the conveyancing sector to solve specific problems and remove obstacles.

Our sole focus at Collaborative Conveyancing is to solve the long-standing problem and time-consuming process of dealing with conveyancing enquiries.

By applying workflow automation with Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing to conveyancing, we bring an automated solution for property lawyers.

Collaborative Conveyancing have received support from grants such as Innovate UK as well as private investment from recognised individuals who know and understand our sector.

What are the conveyancing-related challenges that Collaborative Conveyancing has set out to tackle?

Conveyancing takes too long and, as evidenced by surveys conducted by Today’s Conveyancer, enquiries are a root cause of the delay. The number of enquiries per case are on the increase and this is only likely to become worse in light of the increasing complexity of conveyancing. The volume of enquiries often causes unnecessary conflict and long delays, and this is against a backdrop of experienced conveyancers leaving our industry.

Anywhere between 10 and 60 free text questions are asked as part of the enquiry due diligence process; it can often feel like a black hole of never-ending queries and menial administrative tasks.

Collaborative Conveyancing’s automated solution uses AI technology to read and identify enquiries received from the buyer’s conveyancer, and predictively generate suggested solutions to the seller’s conveyancer. The goal is to save time, reduce dissatisfaction, and remove the burden placed on property lawyers.

We aren’t doing this alone. At key stages we are interacting with conveyancing firms and industry mentors as well as our Research Community.

How is Collaborative Conveyancing using AI to overcome those challenges?

AI has the potential to change conveyancing and conveyancers can either sit back and watch it develop and shape the future around them or they can embrace it to help shape a better future in conveyancing.

AI, however, is only a tool and isn’t a product that can be used out of the box. It will only be as good as our understanding of conveyancing and the quality of our lawyers who are training the system.

We have identified what we believe to be the main challenges for selling lawyers to answer enquiries effectively and we are training our system to predictively track and recommend actions for selling lawyers. In addition, some of the most common administrative tasks can be automated which will not only assist lawyers but also save time and resources.

Conversely to generic large language models such as ChatGPT, we are developing an advanced, purpose-built system trained by experienced senior conveyancers to ensure answers are accurate and relevant.

How will use of AI in this case benefit conveyancers in practice?

We aim to use AI to reduce the boring, manual administrative work for selling conveyancers, leaving them with more time to do the parts of the conveyancing process they are trained for and enjoy.

Let’s face it: none of us relish the paper chase associated with gathering the information required to answer enquiries that are raised, and we recognise that AI can assist with this.

For example, we can remove the need for conveyancers to sift through hundreds of emails to find out which ones contain enquiries. Enquiries can be automatically identified on receipt, tracked, then assigned to a case where recommendations and solutions will be offered to the experienced case handler including what answers would be appropriate and what actions are needed to move the case forward.

Ultimately, this would allow fee earners to work through cases more quickly and efficiently, improve experienced conveyancer retention, reduce fall-through rates, and increase client satisfaction.

What challenges and risks occur through use of AI in this case, and how are Collaborative Conveyancing managing or overcoming this?

The risks of using AI that conveyancers worry about appear to be a) liability, b) redundancy, c) fear of the unknown, and d) data protection and security.

Unlike many companies building systems in this area, we do not seek to replace conveyancers. Instead, we seek to ensure that conveyancers are better tooled to manage enquiries effectively and they are able to spend more time on the enquiries requiring their expertise rather than getting consumed in all the drudge and administration.

At all times we envisage that conveyancers will decide what action is taken on any enquiry, but like predictive spelling in a word document, suggested answers are provided based on how similar queries have been answered before by that firm.

Our tool will be seamless and feel natural and easy, operating in the background like a supportive administrative assistant.

Back in 2018, the SRA issued a paper supporting the use of technology saying “artificial intelligence (AI) is already being used to improve and enhance – not replace – the work of human lawyers”.

Other upsides on the horizon of a more accurate way of dealing with enquiries by reducing human error include positive impacts on insurance premiums and less complaints.

Conveyancers are right to be nervous about where their data goes in some of the systems that are out there and how the AI is making decisions. We use closed systems, so the location of the data is safe, and we ensure that decision-making rests with the lawyers and at all times they have visibility of what is going on and control. We think these are important principles to adopt as this technology evolves.

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