Is generative AI really coming for us lawyers?

Lawyers are on the brink of extinction, thanks to Allen & Overy’s announcement that they have developed an adapted AI Model that can be used to carry out legal work. Here, Beyond Corporate Partner, James Corlett, looks at what the release of the new generative AI looks like for the legal industry.

Allen & Overy have announced the development of an AI Model that can draft contracts, carry out research tasks and advise them on regulatory issues. Unsurprisingly, the announcement was met by a mixed review in the press. Many of my esteemed colleagues across the legal profession have declared that the end is nigh both for lawyers like myself and essentially the human race in general.

I take a slightly more relaxed view of the roll-out of ‘robot lawyers’, having had first hand experience of using ChatGPT, it’s pretty good, but as good as an experienced (human) lawyer? Not yet.

That’s not to say that tools like this do not have a future in the market, which will no doubt grow as the tools become more sophisticated and the profession becomes used to managing the tools properly, (as opposed to being managed by the tool itself or becoming overly reliant).


Aids similar to this are nothing new in the profession. As an experienced commercial lawyer I confess that rarely do you draft a contract completely from scratch, no matter how unusual or left-field the subject matter might be. In my view, however, my clients don’t pay for me to provide them with a textbook answer or a precedent document. They are paying for the experience and the know-how that rests between my ears [(which, admittedly takes a couple of coffees to fire up at the minute (the result of having kids under five who think that 4.30am is a reasonable time to start their day!).)] which allows me and my team to tailor advice, drafting and our negotiation techniques to the exact set of circumstances before us, with one-eye on predicting what may happen in future.

Perhaps more importantly for the clients I speak to, they are usually keen to ensure that they receive fair value for a fair service. Using tools such as this is great provided that they are managed properly, and savings are shared with clients and not brazenly used to crank up profit margins – especially in an economy reeling from the energy crisis and the pandemic.

As I write this, I am acutely aware of the risk of being accused of being a luddite, but far from it. Beyond Law Group’s investment in technology is extensive and evolving and we embrace it fully, however, we are acutely aware of the value of the human connection to our clients and their businesses, and this is perhaps something that can be forgotten in the race for technological supremacy.

After all, given that Google’s chatbot made a factual error on its first public demonstration, wiping $100b off their market cap, would you trust a bot to write your contracts…?

By James Corlett