Oxford University Research AI Benefits In Legal Sector

Oxford University Research AI Benefits In Legal Sector

The University of Oxford has been given £1.2million for a research project into artificial intelligence (AI) and the benefits it could bring to the legal sector.

Despite initial scepticism regarding technology in law and the exposure to potential cyber security threats, investment in technology is becoming more of a priority in the legal sector.

The Annual Law Firms’ Survey 2018 found that 100% of the top ten law firms and 63% of overall respondents view technology as a key challenge facing the legal sector over the next two years.

Many firms have questioned whether the technology basics have been put in place to ensure optimum efficiency within the firm. Where they are unclear on this, many firms have a technology improvement plan to ensure the firm is aware of the emerging technologies.

However, many remain concerned that their firm is confused over the best technology available to benefit their firm. Many question how they would fund technological investments in the current market. Because of Lawtech’s perceived infancy, many are deterred from embracing technology fully until clearer benefits are emphasised.

In light of these concerns, A project being led by the Faculty of Law at The University of Oxford have been tasked with exploring both the potential and limitations of using AI in support of legal services.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) will fund the project and many other stakeholders within the legal sector will work in collaboration  to ensure the research is improved through insights across the entire sector.

The research team will include private-sector specialists with a diverse reach across the legal sector, this includes Slaughter and May, Allen & Overy; barristers from South Square Chambers; the Law Society; Thomson Reuters; lawtech start-up LexSnap and charity Legal Education Foundation.

The initial focus of the research is to look at: investigating emerging business models deploying AI in law to help identify best practice in governance and strategy; understanding the potential for application of AI in dispute resolution; exploring the application of new AI methods to legal reasoning; and comparing skills training and technology transfer in the UK with competitor countries such as the US, Hong Kong and Singapore to draw policy implications.

Professor John Armour, from the Faculty of Law, leads the multi-disciplinary team working on the project. He said: “I am delighted that we will be able to embark on this innovative and timely programme of research. The project team will draw on relevant expertise from a wide range of disciplines across the University, and we will work together with a number of private sector partners who are also engaging with these issues. It is hugely exciting to be able to work with such an outstanding team.”

The research should be the clarification that the legal industry is waiting for on how this technology can be used to best improve the efficiency within a law firm. It is hoped the research will provide the educational needs for lawyer’s engagement with technology and help developers more closely consider the needs within the legal industry.

Has your company embraced AI technologies within the law firm? What benefits do you think AI will provide? Do you welcome this research?  


Martin Parrin

Martin is a Senior Content Writer for Today’s Conveyancer, Today’s Wills and Probate, Today’s Legal Cyber Risk and Today's Family Lawyer

Having qualified as a teacher, Martin previously worked as a Secondary English Teacher that responsible for Head of Communications.

After recently returning to the North West from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, Martin has left teaching to start a career in writing and pursue his lifelong passion with the written word.

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