Harvey, the startup that built what it describes as “the lawyer’s co-pilot,” emerged from secrecy today with $5 million in funding led by the OpenAI Startup Fund, through which OpenAI and its partners invest in early-stage artificial intelligence solutions to big problems. Smart Inc. Also participating in the round was Jeff Dean, head of Google AI, Google’s AI research arm. and Mixer Labs co-founder Elad Gil and other angel investors.
Harvey was co-founded by former securities and antitrust litigation attorneys at O’Melveny & Myers, Winston Weinberg and Gabriel Pereyra, who (Gabriel Pereyra) has worked as a research scientist at DeepMind, Google Brain (another AI team at Google), and Meta AI. Weinberg and Pereyra were roommates—Pereyra showed Weinberg OpenAI’s GPT-3 text generation system, and Weinberg realized it could be used to improve legal workflows.
“Our product provides a natural language interface to lawyers’ existing legal workflows,” Pereira told TechCrunch in an email interview. “Instead of manually editing legal documents or doing legal research, Harvey enables lawyers to describe what they want done with simple instructions and receive the resulting results. To do this, Harvey leverages large language models to understand user intent and generate correct Output.”
More specifically, Harvey can answer questions in natural language, such as “tell me what the difference is between an employee of the Fourth Circuit and an independent contractor” and “tell me whether this provision in the lease violates the California The law, if it is, rewrites it so that it is no longer against the law.” On first reading, Harvey seemed almost able to replace a lawyer, producing legal arguments and filing drafts at a moment’s notice. But Pereira insists that’s not the case.
“We want Harvey to act as an intermediary between technology and lawyers, as a natural language interface to the law,” he said. “Harvey will make lawyers more efficient, allowing them to complete higher quality work and spend more time on high-value parts of their work. Harvey provides a unified and intuitive interface for all legal workflows, allowing lawyers to Describe tasks in plain English, rather than using a complex and specialized set of tools for niche tasks.”
It’s powerful stuff in theory. But it’s also worrying. Given the highly sensitive nature of most legal disputes, attorneys and law firms may be reluctant to give a tool like Harvey access to any case files.There is also the issue of propensity for language models toxicity and fictional factwhich especially would not have been admissible in court were it not for perjury.
That’s why Harvey, which is currently in beta, comes with a disclaimer: This tool is not intended to provide legal advice to non-lawyers and should be used under the supervision of a licensed attorney.
On the issue of data privacy, Pereyra said Harvey went out of its way to meet customers’ compliance needs by anonymizing user data and deleting it after a predetermined period of time. Users can delete data at any time upon request, and they take comfort in the fact that Harvey doesn’t “cross-contaminate” data between customers, he said.
It’s still early. But Pereyra said Harvey was already being used by “users in the legal space”, from law firms to legal aid organisations.
It faces some competition. Casetext uses artificial intelligence (mainly GPT-3) to find legal cases and assist with general legal research tasks and brief drafting.Additional surgical tools such as clarity Use AI to take the drudgery out of contract reviews. At one point, startup Augrented was even exploring how to use GPT-3 to summarize legal notices or other sources in plain English to help tenants defend their rights.
On the one hand, Brad Lightcap, OpenAI’s CCO and manager of the OpenAI Startup Fund, thinks Harvey is sufficiently differentiated. It will also benefit from a relationship with OpenAI; OpenAI Startup Fund participants get early access to Microsoft’s new OpenAI systems and Azure resources, in addition to funding.
“We believe Harvey will have a transformative impact on our legal system, enabling lawyers to more effectively serve more clients with higher quality legal services,” Lightcap said by email. “We launched the OpenAI Startup Fund to support companies using powerful AI to drive impact at the societal level, and Harvey’s vision of how AI can increase access to legal services and improve outcomes fits perfectly with our mission.”
Harvey has a team of five, and Pereyra expects that number to grow to five to ten by the end of the year. When asked about revenue figures, he did not answer.