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PwC Has a Fancy New AI Tool to Law Around With

Today is the day that PwC ushered in a new era for professional services: a global partnership with AI startup Harvey, offering PwC’s legal professionals “exclusive access” (that is, they are the only Big 4 firm who has it) to the platform. It’s a shame we had to scroll all the way to the bottom of this celebratory news release to find this disclaimer: AI will not be used to provide legal advice to clients and AI will not replace lawyers, nor be a substitute for professional legal services. Sounds like something AI would say.

This is from PwC’s statement, you know we wouldn’t write like this:

Harvey, which is backed by the OpenAI Startup Fund, is built on OpenAi and Chat GPT technology. It is a platform that uses natural language processing, machine learning and data analytics to automate and enhance various aspects of legal work. Harvey will help generate insights and recommendations based on large volumes of data, delivering richer information that will enable PwC professionals to identify solutions faster. All outputs will be overseen and reviewed by PwC professionals.

The strategic alliance builds on PwC’s ability to bring human-led and tech-enabled solutions to clients, delivering on its global strategy, The New Equation.

The firm says access to the technology will be used to support many of PwC’s global clients — you’ll note the careful wording there. “Access to,” “will be,” “to support.” Let’s be clear: Harvey will be closely supervised. And it will not be used to provide legal advice to clients and AI will not replace lawyers, nor be a substitute for professional legal services. WILL NOT.

And here are the purported benefits, for PwC professionals and for the firm’s clients:

  • Harvey will give PwC’s professionals across 100+ countries access to leading generative AI technology. This will enhance the ability of PwC’s network of more than 4,000 legal professionals to deliver human led and technology enabled legal solutions in a range of areas, including contract analysis, regulatory compliance, claims management, due diligence and broader legal advisory and legal consulting services.
  • PwC will work with Harvey to take the platform to market to help clients further streamline their in-house legal processes.
  • PwC will also look to develop and train its own proprietary AI models with Harvey to create customised products and services for its own use cases and for clients across Legal Business Solutions.

There are a bunch of quotes in the statement, all of them predictably excited about the tool. PwC Global Tax & Legal Services Leader Carol Stubbings (PwC UK) says Harvey marks a huge shift in the way that tax and legal services will be delivered and consumed across the industry. PwC Global Legal Business Solutions Leader (PwC Australia) Tony O’Malley says it will transform the way PwC provides legal solutions across the globe. Buzzwords like “game changer” and “paradigm shift” make an appearance. And Harvey’s two founders are both thrilled (one used that word) to partner with PwC. Harvey apparently was not asked for comment.

Here’s a quote the grunts might like. This is from Sandeep Agrawal, PwC’s Global Leader for Legal Technology (PwC UK): “With the use of Harvey, our Legal Business Solutions professionals will be at the forefront of industry developments, catalysing their ability to deliver comprehensive, cost-efficient and market-relevant solutions to our clients. Integrating Harvey into our day to day activities will free-up much needed time and resources allowing our people to focus more on innovation and value accretive tasks.”

Harvey currently has a waitlist. It was founded by Gabriel Pereyra, who used to be a research scientist at DeepMind, Google Brain, and Meta AI, and former securities and antitrust litigator Winston Weinberg. In a November 2022 TechCrunch interview, Pereyra explains what exactly the tool offers legal professionals:

“Our product provides lawyers with a natural language interface for their existing legal workflows,” Pereyra told TechCrunch in an email interview. “Instead of manually editing legal documents or performing legal research, Harvey enables lawyers to describe the task they wish to accomplish in simple instructions and receive the generated result. To enable this, Harvey leverages large language models to both understand users’ intent and to generate the correct output.”

More concretely, Harvey can answer questions asked in natural language like, “Tell me what the differences are between an employee and independent contractor in the Fourth Circuit,” and “Tell me if this clause in a lease is in violation of California law, and if so, rewrite it so it is no longer in violation.” On first read, it almost seems as though Harvey could replace lawyers, generating legal arguments and filing drafts at a moment’s notice. But Pereyra insists that this isn’t the case.

Sounds like something an aspiring lawyer AI would say…

“We want Harvey to serve as an intermediary between tech and lawyer, as a natural language interface to the law,” he told TechCrunch. “Harvey will make lawyers more efficient, allowing them to produce higher quality work and spend more time on the high value parts of their job. Harvey provides a unified and intuitive interface for all legal workflows, allowing lawyers to describe tasks in plain English instead of using a suite of complex and specialized tools for niche tasks.”

“Working with PwC provides a unique opportunity to further enhance AI’s potential to solve the most complex legal problems,” said Pereyra in the firm’s announcement. “The scope of PwC’s capabilities enables us to collaborate on AI systems that expand on Harvey’s core legal use cases to provide more comprehensive solutions for PwC and their clients.”

Anyway, kinda cool. Thought we’d share.

Update: A month after the PwC partnership was announced, Harvey raised $21 million in a Series A funding round led by Sequoia Capital.