What is ‘AI-Assisted Research’ for Lawyers in Australia?

‘AI-Assisted Research’ is an augmented way of doing legal research. It uses artificial intelligence (AI), or more specifically, a large language model (LLM) to provide synthesised legal answers faster.

Thomson Reuters is transforming how lawyers work with the newly launched Westlaw Precision Australia. The AI-Assisted Research feature offers advanced generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) capabilities for Australian lawyers, barristers and solicitors.

The LLM taps into the collection of Australian authorised law reports to help generate answers. It is an excellent starting point for lawyers who want to work faster and with trusted content sets. The following article explores how lawyers are using AI to assist them with case law research.

Is AI-Assisted Research on Westlaw Precision Australia?

Yes, AI for legal research has arrived. Westlaw Precision Australia has arrived and includes AI-Assisted Research. It fast tracks legal research with GenAI. The LLM uses natural language and a retrieval augmented generation (RAG) technique. The models analyses vast amounts of legal data at superhuman speed.

Lawyers asking legal questions on the GenAI interface can access the most relevant information quickly. The language model draws from trusted content sets, including the Australian authorised law reports to provide useful answers.

Will AI-Assisted Research replace lawyers?

No, AI-Assisted Research will not replace lawyers. However, lawyers who use AI do gain time savings. AI-Assisted Research on Westlaw Precision Australia accelerates legal research, but is no substitute for thorough research.

Whilst technology cannot replace lawyers, the legal profession is changing because of AI. AI and LLMs are unlike technologies that have come before it.

According to the ‘Future of Professionals Report – Asia & Emerging Markets Edition‘, 64% of professionals expect AI will transform their profession. This highlights the significant role AI will play as an assistant at work.

What is unique about Westlaw Precision Australia?

Assisted research on Westlaw Precision Australia comprises a GenAI experience, and comprehensive and reliable legal research. As mentioned earlier, one point of difference is the Australian authorised law reports. Another stand-out feature is KeyCite’s ‘Cited With’.

Lawyers using the feature will discover cases cited together in other cases. Even if they do not directly cite each other, Cited With can identify linking cases.

The feature is particularly valuable for litigators. It accelerates the process of investigating relevant case law and saves time.

James Jarvis, Vice President – Legal Solutions for Thomson Reuters, Asia & Emerging Markets, explains the core functionality of the platform:

“With Westlaw Precision Australia, lawyers can simply ask their research question as they would with a trusted colleague. Westlaw Precision Australia uses sophisticated AI technology to review the Thomson Reuters vast collection of millions of Australian primary law documents at superhuman speed.”

“Our large language models answer questions based on statistical analysis of language patterns and trusted content. The process enables lawyers to conduct research more efficiently. Lawyers can use Westlaw Precision Australia as part of a thorough, consistent, and repeatable research process,” Jarvis added.

James Jarvis, Vice President - Legal Solutions for Thomson Reuters, Asia & Emerging Markets, explains the core functionality of the platform.
James Jarvis, Vice President – Legal Solutions for Thomson Reuters, Asia & Emerging Markets, explains the core functionality of the platform.

Lawyers testing out the tool also believe it’s a launch pad for research. “Westlaw Precision’s AI-Assisted Research is an invaluable asset, especially for legal researchers and young lawyers.

“It provides an excellent starting point for legal research, guiding them to the most pertinent cases and legislation with remarkable speed and accuracy,” comments Emma Joneshart, Research Consultant for MinterEllison.

Emma Joneshart, Research Consultant for MinterEllison, believes Westlaw Precision Australia is an excellent starting point for legal research.

What are the benefits of AI-Assisted Research for lawyers?

The introduction of AI-Assisted Research offers numerous benefits to legal research workflows. It significantly reduces the time spent on research. Lawyers can accomplish some legal research tasks in minutes, as opposed to hours.

“Research that took me 2-3 hours last week took five minutes,” says Stephen Mitchell, Lawyer for Moores.

The large language model’s ability to analyse and cross-reference data quickly, also helps lawyers research faster than usual.

“I anticipate that Precision will save me 30% of the time I normally spend researching a case for advice or appearance in court,” says Victor Kline, Barrister and Editor of the Federal Court Reports and the Federal Law Reports.

Finally, the platform offers a conversational user interface. This makes it easy to use, like discussing a case with a colleague. Erik Pridgen, Graduate for MinterEllison says the tool is like a friend:

“A junior’s new best friend: we finally have a tool that can act as the first point of call for a junior to put in a plain English legal question and receive case law and legislation you didn’t even know you were looking for!”

Should lawyers trust AI-Assisted Research?

Trust is paramount in legal research. Westlaw Precision Australia only draws from trusted legal content. Keep in mind, the answers that the GenAI provides does not replace thorough legal research. Think of it as a tool for lawyers to be more effective. Feedback from lawyers has been positive:

“I trust AI-Assisted Research because it is only drawing from the vast content available in Westlaw. The footnotes within the AI-Assisted Research also help me to trust the software, as I can click into each footnote and read the case or legislation in more depth,” says Rhiannon Perrin, Research Consultant for MinterEllison.

Rhiannon Perrin
Rhiannon Perrin, Research Consultant for MinterEllison, says the footnotes within the AI-Assisted Research help her to trust the software.

How different is Westlaw Precision Australia?

Westlaw Precision Australia builds on the existing Westlaw Australia content and user experience lawyers know and trust. You don’t need to be a tech expert to use it. Westlaw Precision Australia keeps the end-user top of mind. It focuses on ease of use without compromising on sophistication.

Prompt engineering for lawyers has become popular in the legal profession. These can help make legal research results more targeted when you are unfamiliar with the art of prompting. Having said that, you can ask the Westlaw Precision Australia’s LLM questions like you would a trusted colleague. It is easy to login and ask questions.

Is AI the future of legal research?

The future of legal research looks promising with the integration of AI. As these technologies continue to evolve, lawyers will find new ways to use them.

By adopting tools like Westlaw Precision Australia, lawyers, barristers and solicitors can achieve greater efficiency, accuracy, and client satisfaction. Thomson Reuters continues to lead the way in providing innovative solutions that empower legal professionals.

Westlaw Precision Australia’s launch to market aims to transform how lawyers work. Thomson Reuters ‘build, buy, partner’ strategy has informed its evolving product roadmap and investments.

Thomson Reuters introduced CoCounsel to Australia in February 2024. The tool is a professional grade AI assistant. Over time, CoCounsel will link Thomson Reuters products across its entire portfolio, enabling customers to bring together skills and workflows from different products into one place for an enhanced user experience.

Thomson Reuters is committed to continuous innovation. Platforms like Westlaw Precision Australia and CoCounsel harness professional-grade AI capabilities. Discover how AI-Assisted Research can transform your legal practice with Westlaw Precision Australia.

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