Chrissie Lightfoot

Rise of the robot lawyer

LISA is a robot lawyer which has been developed to help students, entrepreneurs and SMEs create legally binding Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) without paying excessive lawyer fees.

By asking questions about your needs, LISA intelligently drafts the document using artificial intelligence while helping you understand the legal and commercial principles on which it is based.

The robot has been developed in collaboration with practising solicitors, drawing on decades of entrepreneurial, technical, corporate and commercial legal experience.

LISA is also the first law robot to provide unbiased and objective assistance to both parties, allowing users to avoid having to engage traditional human lawyers on either side. Free of charge.

Chrissie Lightfoot, co-founder of Leeds-headquartered AI Tech Solutions Ltd which trades as Robot Lawyer LISA, told BQ: “In the UK, 54% of all small businesses and 33% of consumers muddle through unrepresented when they should really be seeking legal help.

“In the USA and Canada the situation is even worse, with 80% and 90% of businesspeople respectively ‘making do’ without the help of a human lawyer. LISA is designed to enable these people, who do not have the means to protect themselves, to do just that.”

She adds: “I have spent years working right at the cutting edge of the industry, advising people and companies as to how the kinds of AI technologies now and in the future, could be deployed in the legal ecosystem.

“I was also thinking about and advising clients on why AI technology, which holds both peril and promise in its capacity, should be used and what type of new AI solutions they should consider creating in order to overcome the very real problem of the lack of access to legal services for the majority of business and consumers, not just in the UK but across the world.”

With a keen interest in AI and a wealth of experience in the legal sector, Chrissie was amazed with her findings of just how much AI could benefit the industry and how it could help more businesses than ever before benefit from free legal advice.

It was when she pitched the idea to some of the businesses she was working with however, that she realised it would be more challenging than she initially thought. Disrupting one of the globe’s most traditional industries was going to take some work.

“As I was working closely with the very kind of people and companies (such as lawyers and law firms) that could easily have stepped in to provide what LISA is doing it became apparent that they did not have the appetite to do so,” she said.

“There were many reasons for this, the prime one being it wouldn’t sit well within the traditional law business model. Accordingly, LISA – which stands for Legal Intelligence Support Assistant - was borne out of my frustration from the inertia of the legal world to step up and use smart technology as a game changer to serve all of mankind whilst breaking the lawyer’s game playing behaviour that tends to fuel increased costs and time. 

“Our goal is to make every day basic legal services accessible and affordable to the masses of students, consumers and business people who are unhappy with, or overly reliant on, human lawyers and law firms.

“Many human lawyers are adversarial by nature, even when dealing with non-contentious matters. LISA’s aim is to negate the double time and double costs involved in relation to this human lawyer behaviour by being completely impartial when assisting the parties on each side.”

Since the ‘soft-launch’ of LISA back in December last year the ‘immediate media’ i.e. those in the legal-tech space were rather curious and the number of visitors to the website and actual users of the NDA AI tool across the globe ticked along steadily.

However, since the official launch last month (6 April), the company has witnessed a significant increase in the number of visitors, pings and users. The official launch press release attracted a great deal of interest from a whole range of media in different countries – legal, business, technology, mainstream – including the Financial Times, The Times, Raconteur, CNN and now BQ!

Chrissie said: “We’ve only been running a few months but are delighted to witness the increasing interest and take-up of the NDA AI tool on a daily basis. We’re even seeing repeat users that are using LISA for many NDA’s for many different receivers and not just as a one-time use.”

And with the core LISA product being completely free, with a handful of premium add-ons, you might be wondering like I was, how it will be sustainable as a business? Chrissie explains exactly why: “The company is lean, digital and agile, meaning we don’t have need for premises currently (if ever).

“Adam and I work from our homes, hot-desking at business institutions and ‘on the move’. We are supported by our media agency, CRM system company, website team and technology team, who operate from their own premises and/or remotely on different continents also, as we contract out for services rather than employ full-time staff that may need a communal ‘place of work’.

“We find this way of working to be cost, time and skill-set effective; for example, the breath of expertise and specialism our media agency and website developer pull in and deliver to us for the different kinds of marketing, PR, content, media and website support we require cannot be found in one or two individual employees.

“This way of working is hugely advantageous to our business, particularly in this first year of trade when we need to be smart in how we use our time, money, skills and talent to dovetail with our growth plans.”

It has now been just one month since LISA officially launched and already the programme has been used by individuals and businesses from across the world in various jurisdictions; for example, throughout continents such as Africa, South America, North America, Australasia and Scandanavia.

So, what’s next for Chrissie, AI Tech Solutions and LISA? She concluded: “In the near future Robot Lawyer LISA plans to expand the range of AI legal services available to students, businesses and consumers.

“The NDA AI tool will remain within our freemium business model (and may even be available in an additional foreign language in due course) whilst additional AI products will sit within our premium (pay for).

“LISA also aims to partner with appropriate institutions and corporates where there is synergy in relation to mission and purpose and where LISA can complement their products, services and clients/members.

“We are currently collaborating with a handful. Our first and key collaboration is with the University of Westminster and Westminster Law School to further our and their ground-breaking initiatives. Westminster Law School is one of the leading schools in the UK in the field of technology and the law. 

“Initiatives such as REVRLaw will also enable students to explore virtual reality crime scenes, while senior lecturer in law Dr Paresh Kathrani is developing a virtual reality game with the Faculty of Science and Technology to enable interactive and experiential legal education.

“It’s of great importance that we continually push the boundaries and embrace smart technologies within the global legal ecosystem to ensure affordable, efficient, effective, quality, omnipresent legal support and advice for all people in all societies on every continent.”

Chrissie’s top three tips for aspiring entrepreneurs:

  • You must have a purpose for your business. Why do you want to do this? Whatever your reason or answer is you must go about making your idea a reality through action filled with your passion, energy and enthusiasm. If you lack any of these you’re putting the survival chance of your nascent business at risk.
  • Make sure you have a strong and varied network of kind, influential and talented people (family, friends, colleagues, business mentors) around you and within reach who will be happy to listen and guide you. In the most challenging times it is this support network that will feed your energy and bolster your courage to keep going.
  • In the words of Sir Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up”.

Published: 03 May 2017

Article by Bryce Wilcock
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