After an extensive search across multiple AI platforms, Wotton + Kearney has become the first Australian law firm to adopt Cicero, the first fully private generative AI tool developed specifically for the Australian legal industry.

Developed by Australian AI solution provider Automatise, Cicero is the first legal AI solution that is fully private, meaning all of the firms’ information is securely stored onshore and behind its firewall, with no data processed by third parties.

The AI solution, which has been fine-tuned on Australian law, launches this month.

David Kearney, Chief Executive Partner, Wotton + Kearney said the firm is constantly looking for ways to use technology and innovation to improve existing processes and in turn, deliver value to clients.

“This AI solution will be a gamechanger for our lawyers and clients,’’ Mr Kearney said.

“We all want our information to be absolutely secure and this is the first private legal AI solution that allows us to do that”.

Cicero is powered by locally hosted large language models (LLMs) from Meta and Mistral AI, which are AI models trained on vast amounts of data to generate human-like text. Automatise have fine-tuned these LLMs for Australian legal use cases, enabling Cicero to generate high-quality, coherent summaries and analyses of legal documents.

Wotton + Kearney’s focus in introducing Cicero is to improve the efficiency of the firm’s legal services, by allowing lawyers to focus on delivering the best advice to their clients, while reducing the time and cost of document review and analysis.

“Automatise is a trusted partner in the execution of our AI strategy and Cicero has the potential to be a game-changer for the legal industry. The platform provides enhanced security and caters to the sensitive needs of both the firm and our clients, ensuring compliance with current and evolving legislative requirements. It will also enable us to work smarter, by empowering our lawyers to focus on what they do best – delivering the best advice to our clients,” Mr Kearney said.

Joseph Rayment, Managing Director, Automatise said they are committed to supporting the firm’s innovation and transformation strategy.

“We are delighted to partner with Wotton + Kearney as an early adopter to develop and implement Cicero, a private and secure option for law firms looking to leverage generative AI. Cicero has been purpose built to assist in both litigation and non-litigation workflows, helping investigations by finding critical documents that support or break case theories, draft chronologies, and perform both high level and detailed summarisations and text extractions of documents in active matters.

“Wotton + Kearney’s steadfast commitment to their clients’ privacy, to data sovereignty and data protection standards aligns precisely with our offering from a values perspective, and we look forward to continuing our partnership to explore how we can continue to enhance the firm’s legal services and client experience,” he added.

Charles Simon, Managing Partner, Casualty & Operations, Wotton + Kearney said over the past 12 months the firm has made a conscious effort to invest in AI.

“AI is a primary focus of our firm’s innovation and transformation strategy, and we have been taking a broad and multifaceted approach. We are looking at opportunities to buy existing AI tools, build our own AI muscle and partner with existing and emerging tech vendors,” Mr Simon said.

“New technology is not without its challenges, and our focus is on ensuring privacy and security as well as how to safeguard client data in the best way possible.”

Cicero offers a private and secure alternative for firms looking to take advantage of the efficiency benefits of generative AI from behind their firewall, without sharing confidential data with third or fourth parties, or going offshore. Purpose built to give time back to lawyers to do what they do best, it also ensures compliance with current and evolving legislative requirements in highly regulated industries, such as APRA CPS 234 and CPS 230, which mandate the protection of information assets and the management of data risks.

Founded in 2002, Wotton + Kearney has grown from two partners to 79 partners and over 450 lawyers across offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. It has also announced the opening of its Singapore office from 18 June 2024.