Behind Successful Chatbots: Ailira
Ailira (www.ailira.com), the ”artificially intelligent legal information research assistant”, is an AI chatbot that uses natural language processing. The chatbot has been designed to understand and process sophisticated technical legal questions & search quickly. Ailira was created by Adrian Cartland, the founder of Cartland Tech and the law firm without lawyers.
Around 5 years ago, Adrian Cartland started to think about digital disruption in the legal industry. At that time, Adrian worked as a tax lawyer in a top tier legal firm and didn’t believe his work could ever be automated.
In 2014 Cartland took a couple of weeks off his work and went on a holiday. He spent some time reading books on the future of law, and the idea of legal automatization started crossing his mind. As he researched more and more, he realized that not only had automation in the law began many years ago, but it was inevitable that technology would be developed to further automate the law, globally.
As Cartland began thinking more about it, he understood that much of his work could be automated and would continue to be, if not by him, then by someone else. This led him to AI. Adrian started investigating various types of technologies, including artificial intelligence, to help him find the solution.
After his vacation, Adrian came to his boss and said: “I think I can automate 80% of your job”. “OK. Show me,” was the reply. So, Adrian left his job to create his own legal tech company, Cartland Law, and invest in the first version of AI research assistant.
Within 6 months, the beta of Ailira was ready to go. In December 2015, Ailira won a grant from the D3 Digital Challenge “Keeping Women Safe”, a South Australian program that looks for digital solutions to support women experiencing or at risk of experiencing domestic violence. A couple of months later, in March 2016, Ailira was first launched for the legal research automation, with the plans to automate legal information provision and legal documents generation in the next version.
But the eureka moment came when Cartland also saw the opportunities in the legal consumer space. A huge unserved legal market, as he explains.
“Those who are in need – can get legal aid, and those who are wealthy – can afford a lawyer. But, for most people, they can’t get legal aid and can’t afford a lawyer. We are missing a middle. And those are the people who are best served by automation.”
Cartland notes that even though he loves being a lawyer, some things are broken with the law, and he believes that they can be fixed if lawyers and technologists work in tandem to solve the issues. “In the legal industry there are a lot of boring, repetitive, risky and expensive things that lawyers don’t like doing and clients don’t like paying for. And there’s where Ailira can help.”
In December 2016, Adrian decided to scale the legal information provision to messengers. Mr. Cartland reached out to BotsCrew to help him bring legal services closer to people by creating an Ailira chatbot.
Ailira chatbot asks several questions via text (or speech) like an interview. That information is collated and can be analyzed to provide tailored legal information, and also automatically generates legal documents.
When talking about challenges along the way, Adrian said that “Everything always goes up and down. It’s fun of building. When I started Ailira, I went on a 2-year sprint. I was constantly working to the middle of the night, trying to do my law firm, trying to grow my practice, and do all these building things with Ailira. As I said, there are always going to be downsides and rough moments. It’s always like that when you are building something. But in the end, it all worked out.”
Amongst other media outlets, The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) News has reported on the development of Ailira. In a case study, a paralegal was invited to compete against Ailira on a complex legal tax task. ABC News asked a complicated tax question of both the Paralegal and Ailira. The results were striking, Ailira found an answer in 30 seconds while the paralegal struggled to keep up.
To bring the reality of legal artificial intelligence to the public, Cartland opened a world first law firm without lawyers powered by Ailira and selling the first of many products to come, “Australian Wills”. On opening day at the “law firm without lawyers,” 42 wills were generated.
“Typically, lawyers create around 3-4 wills a day, and there was a 6 feet line of people waiting to get legal help”.
Cartland believes that the success of the project comes from proper planning.
“My advice for people who are thinking about innovations is to plan and think through. Many people don't think much about what will happen to their product after it's released. They don't think about the end-user. They don't think about who is going to use it or where it will be placed. So, my advice is to think through and plan."