In this episode of The Geek in Review, hosts Greg Lambert and Marlene Gebauer interview three guests from UK law firm Travers Smith about their work on AI: Chief Technology Officer Oliver Bethell, Director of Legal Technology Shawn Curran, and AI Manager Sam Lansley. They discuss Travers Smith’s approach to testing and applying AI tools like generative models.
A key focus is finding ways to safely leverage AI while mitigating risks like copyright issues and hallucination. Travers Smith built an internal chatbot called YCNbot to experiment with generative AI through secure enterprise APIs. They are being cautious on the generative side but see more revolutionary impact from reasoning applications like analyzing documents.
Travers Smith has open sourced tools like YCNbot to spur responsible AI adoption. Collaboration with 273 Ventures helped build in multi-model support. The team is working on reducing dependence on manual prompting and increasing document analysis capabilities. They aim to be model-agnostic to hedge against reliance on a single vendor.
On model safety, Travers Smith emphasizes training data legitimacy, multi-model flexibility, and probing hallucination risks. They co-authored a paper on subtle errors in legal AI. Dedicated roles like prompt engineers are emerging to interface between law and technology. Travers Smith is exploring AI for tasks like contract review but not yet for work product.
When asked about the crystal ball for legal AI, the guests predicted the need for equitable distribution of benefits, growth in reasoning applications vs. generative ones, and movement toward more autonomous agents over manual prompting. Info providers may gain power over intermediaries applying their data.
This wide-ranging discussion provides an inside look at how one forward-thinking firm is advancing legal AI in a prudent and ethical manner. With an open source mindset, Travers Smith is exploring boundaries and sharing solutions to propel the responsible use of emerging technologies in law.