Mari Sako, Professor of Management Studies, has taken up a key role in the University’s new AI and legal services project
Led by the Faculty of Law, the project has been awarded £1.2 million to explore the potential and limitations of using artificial intelligence (AI) in support of legal services. The award, from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will fund ‘Unlocking the Potential of AI for English Law,’ a research collaboration between various departments within the University of Oxford including Saïd Business School, Law, Economics, Social Policy, Computer Science, Education and a range of private sector organisations.
Professor Sako commented: ‘The stakes for the implementation of AI in UK legal services are high. Together with colleagues in law, economics and computer science at Oxford, I will be investigating the emergent AI-enabled business models in legal services, and complementary shifts necessary in legal knowledge and legal careers.’
Oxford University stated that the project presents ‘an opportunity to improve legal services not only for export but also for domestic business and individuals. The research will seek to identify how constraints on the implementation of AI in legal services can be relaxed to unlock its potential for good.’
The research team will work with private-sector partners representing a range of different positions in the legal services sector, including international law firms Slaughter and May and Allen & Overy; barristers Robin Dicker QC and Ryan Perkins of South Square Chambers; solicitors’ professional body the Law Society; legal technology leader Thomson Reuters; lawtech start-up LexSnap. These collaborations will ensure that the research benefits from insights into, and testing against, real requirements.
Members of the team will investigate a range of complementary research questions. These will include: 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. The fulcrum of the programme will be research into training and educational needs for lawyers' engagement with technology and programmers' engagement with law. The team will develop education and training packages will be developed that respond to these needs for delivery by both universities and private-sector firms.
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. It is hugely exciting to be able to work with such an outstanding team.'