“We will only adopt AI services over time that will support our customers in making efficiencies in their day-to-day working. ”
The rapid expansion of AI technology is stirring debate in the conveyancing industry about its potential benefits and pitfalls, leaving many wondering what role it will play and how far it will transform the way we work.
According to the SRA, 75% of the largest solicitors firms used AI in 2022, double the number from three years previously, while over 60% of large firms and 30% of small firms had explored its potential. This is expected to rise, as does the challenge of how it can be used to support the conveyancing sector reliably.
Artificial Intelligence is all around us
Artificial Intelligence is already among us in our everyday lives, with everyday tools like predictive text, text editors and chat bots all common examples of AI in action. Facial detection and recognition is already widely used in the industry in the undertaking of digital identity checks, such as ID & AML checks served through tmgroup, that have been built in line with HM Land Registry’s Digital ID Standard, Safeharbour, to protect conveyancers from legal recourse.
tmgroup already harnesses further areas of AI technology; applying machine learning with Natural Language Processing (NLP) in its in-house client services systems and for address-matching, whereby addresses are cross-referenced against over 30 million UK postal addresses, to create consistently accurate data that can be checked against external records from the likes of HMLR and Local Authorities. This is a simple yet effective way of reducing the administrative burden on error-checking property addresses.
Tmgroup take on AI
A leading company in the property searches and data market for approaching 25 years, tmgroup is continually investing in new ways to improve efficiencies in the property transaction. The team is actively exploring AI techniques that will best serve its customers, by creating greater process efficiencies to free legal professionals to apply their expertise for the more complex tasks.
Jonathan Stebbings, Chief Commercial Officer at tmgroup, explains, “Ultimately, our goal for AI is to use it to support human interaction, and the conveyancing profession, on their transaction journey and how they go about their business. We will only adopt AI services over time that will support our customers in making efficiencies in their day-to-day working. In doing so, that will ultimately make them more profitable too.”
The evolution of AI for conveyancing
At tmgroup, the focus is to apply AI responsibly in areas that will help conveyancers operate more efficiently, in ways that they want and trust, and that will make a positive difference. AI tech should allow conveyancers to use their expertise while alleviating the burden of data processing and admin.
AI for search production is already within in our internal development roadmap. Looking at Robotic Process Automation for collating information from sources and compiling them for in house searches we produce, such as highways searches, and regulated local authority, water and drainage searches. AI has also been deployed successfully by using machine learning to support our developers write coding or identifying bugs in the coding of apps that lawyers use.
The possibilities for AI in conveyancing extend to compliance and regulatory monitoring, due diligence processing, document drafting and reviewing, and even reviewing contracts, and more; having the power to act as a virtual document store, analysing documents to recognise sensitive data or for lawyers to use bots to make queries, create cases or order searches with ease.
tmgroup’s Development Team Lead & UX Principal, Rhys Jones says, “We do not see AI as simply a tick box exercise. We are actively engaged in assessing new internal ways we can use AI to its best advantages. It’s a rapidly evolving area and we are learning how we can build it into our back-end systems to serve even more intuitive, fit-for-purpose solutions for our customers.”
Building trust to manage risk
One of the greatest concerns about AI within the legal profession is trust and risk exposure. tmgroup is sensitive to this and is already taking mitigating steps by rigorously testing the technology itself to ensure it works, both meeting the high exacting standards within the business and regulatory frameworks.
While the government has now published a white paper, setting out a consultation on how they intend to support AI innovation within an identified risk framework, there is not yet a body of law governing AI in the UK. However, the policy paper does set out its five key objectives: safety/security, transparency, fairness, accountability and contestability.
tmgroup will continue to monitor regulatory developments and work closely with industry bodies to ensure the highest standards are adopted. Jon Horton, Product Director, comments, “Conveyancers are accountable for what they do, so naturally we understand a cautionary approach because any errors caused by AI pose a huge problem. Our approach is to use it ourselves to first learn how to ensure risks are identified and addressed. By doing this and consulting with our customers, legal firms can be confident that our service offerings are fit for purpose and help them in the most appropriate areas of the transaction.”