Artificial intelligence became a more commonplace phenomenon in 2023 after the wildly successful launch of Chat GPT in November 2022. People are more aware than ever of the uses of AI in business, and the potential it has to enhance the way we work.

Conveyancing is no exception. We’re continually exploring the ways that AI can make our work more efficient and effective.

In this blog we look at how AI is improving the experience for our clients now, and we’ll do a bit of (informed) crystal-ball gazing to see where AI might be successfully integrated into the conveyancing process in the future.

Improving the speed of your transactions

AI is most commonly used in the legal sector in the onboarding process. Before we begin working on your file, we need to verify your identity. In the old days, we’d do this by checking your passport and utility bills in person.

Now, we have digital verification systems. We use Infotrack for all our onboarding formalities. The software verifies your ID by cross-referencing your personal data with records stored digitally. It’s much quicker than manual systems and reduces this process from days to hours.

You can read about the other ways we’re using technology in our paper-free office in our previous blog.

Minimising avoidable delays

In any conveyancing transaction, there is a vast amount of documentation. As the client, you have a number of documents that need to be signed, and as solicitors we need to search and review documents relating to your land and property.

Both of these tasks can stall a transaction if we’re not careful.

Documents or pages that are missing signatures won’t be valid. With all the best intentions, people often miss all the places they are supposed to sign. However, AI will flag any missing e-signatures. Omissions are dealt with in seconds, rather than delaying the transaction by days or weeks.

From the solicitor’s point of view, AI can search reams of information more quickly than any human. Therefore, it reduces the time spent on solicitors’ search tasks by identifying trends and pulling our key information, without the need for in depth manual review.

Optimising time spent on the legal work

With things like voice recognition software, solicitors get a chance to dictate letters file notes and other written work. The benefit of this is often overlooked, but shouldn’t be understated.

By giving lawyers a break from typing and staring at the screen, it means we’re sufficiently eagle-eyed when it comes to reviewing the legal documents.

This sort of AI gives us the opportunity to focus on the meticulous tasks that need our legal brains, rather than sapping energy and brain space on administrative tasks.

Where current AI falls short

There has been a little stir of consternation about whether AI will replace lawyers (as there has been in most industries!)

I’m not sure if anyone has tried to get Chat GPT to handle their conveyancing transaction yet, but I don’t think it would be particularly successful.

While Chat GPT may be able to answer some basic questions (just like Google can), the answers it gives are often incomplete, out of date and lacking in nuance for a legal setting. Each conveyancing transaction will have its own challenges, from the issues revealed in searches, to the legal structure of the ownership and negotiations with the other side.

Chat GPT simply can’t handle that sort of individual complexity.

What we can expect in the future

It’s likely that we will see a rise in chat bots that can answer run-of-the-mill questions of a more administrative nature. For example, one of the big law firms in London, Allen & Overy has a chat bot called ‘Harvey’, which can generate first drafts of precedent-driven documents.

In the conveyancing space, one tech start up has recently received funding to develop its AI specifically for conveyancers.  This technology will read inbound enquiries, classify them and structure a response.

AI can certainly help to speed up the process of conveyancing. But it’s unlikely that we’ll see AI replacing the meticulous work of lawyers such as advising clients in clauses in their lease, interpreting the search results and negotiating with the other side.

We will continue to experiment with technology and AI and we’ll invest in the systems that make our work more efficient, and cost effective for our clients.