Law firm MinterEllisonRuddWatts today announced it has entered into a joint venture (JV) with Goat Ventures to explore, and capitalise on, the application of artificial intelligence (AI) for legal services. A market first in New Zealand, the JV is a NZ$2m co-investment at pre-seed stage.
MinterEllisonRuddWatts CEO and JV Board Chair Mike Schubert says: "Businesses are looking for new ways to meet their legal obligations efficiently. We believe it’s time to introduce new technology into the legal services market to meet this need. "We are delighted to partner with Goat Ventures and are excited at the prospect of combining our legal knowledge and approach with a team who know how to get the best from evolving technologies."
As a knowledge based sector, legal services are well suited to AI. To date major firms have invested in traditional technical means of drafting simple documents and automating legal processes. AI gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed meaning more complex tasks, historically performed by lawyers, could be automated.
As a relatively new field in the technology sector there is a limited pool of AI talent in New Zealand.
The JV has already attracted four AI PhDs who have all cut their teeth in commercial organisations such as Microsoft HQ (in the US), Xero and Spark.
Like other organisations looking at how to use disruptive technologies to make a step change, MinterEllisonRuddWatts has chosen to start with a blank sheet, away from legacy structures and practices in its core business.
Mike Schubert continues: "Access to Goat’s expertise through the JV will allow us build on our understanding of AI and look more closely at how we can use it to benefit our clients."
Shaveer Mirpuri, CEO of Goat Ventures who also sits on the JV’s board says: "Combining the legal expertise of MinterEllisonRuddWatts with our AI team and wider capabilities, gives us one of New Zealand’s most exciting start-ups.
"Our plan is to create a credible and global AI business you would be hard pressed to find in Silicon Valley."
MinterEllisonRuddWatts Chair Lloyd Kavanagh said: "This JV shows how committed our firm is to leading innovation in the legal industry and New Zealand more broadly. "We believe the JV will propel us towards our aim of being the best firm for clients to work with, and it’s also a pretty exciting proposition for our people to be involved in."