Artificial intelligence

As the world's leading AI advisory firm, we help responsible pioneers harness the potential and manage the risks of this transformational technology.  

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In February 2023 our team became the first in the world to implement generative AI across an international law firm at enterprise level.  

Thousands of our lawyers in 43 jurisdictions now use GPT-4-based tools in their day-to-day work. 

Pioneers in the use of generative AI 

Our client advice is grounded in the extensive and rigorous program we undertook to safely and responsibly integrate this technology – Harvey – in our own business.  

And we don’t just use AI-based tools, we build them, too. Our proprietary contract drafting tool, ContractMatrix – developed in partnership with Microsoft and Harvey – streamlines contract drafting, review and analysis.  

ContractMatrix has been tested and refined by more than 1,000 of our lawyers and, following its launch at the end of 2023, is now being licenced to clients. 

We understand all forms of AI and the specific issues each raises from a risk management, contract and licencing perspective.  

Our experience spans everything from helping nation states shape their AI policies to advising businesses across industries on how to develop effective and responsible AI solutions, handle AI-focused transactions (including M&A, JVs and collaboration deals), construct AI collaboration agreements and manage AI-related disputes. 

[They are] miles ahead of any other firm on AI.

Representative matters

  • A syndicate of global organisations on the safe deployment of generative AI. Our work included developing a toolkit for assessing and mitigating key legal risks (across U.S., U.K. and EU laws) and implementing an enterprise change management programme to support the deployment of generative AI. 
  • A life sciences company on the design and drafting of a governance framework to triage AI use cases across its global functions and businesses, as well as building the software application to encode that framework .  
  • Sole legal counsel to Partnership on AI; advised on its draft generative AI safety protocols and a collaboration arrangement relating to the roll-out of certain of its data ethics guidelines. 
  • A provider of metaverse solutions on compliance with data protection law and the new digital EU regulations. 
  • A global IT services provider on a global compliance programme for the use of generative AI. 
  • A private equity fund on the strategic issues arising from the development of generative AI models.  
  • Leading AI drug discovery company Exscientia on its c. USD700 million collaboration agreement with Merck for the deployment of Exscientia’s AI platform. 
  • A government on its roadmap for adoption of AI across various government entities including identification of key areas for a feasibility study.

AI at A&O Shearman


Our AI Group



Our deployment of Harvey, an OpenAI-backed tool based on GPT-4, began with a sandbox. In other words, we gave access to a limited number of lawyers in a ring-fenced environment. Sandboxes are crucial for any business looking to deploy generative AI because it’s hard to predict what the technology will do until you use it. We tested, adapted, and moved ahead – all in a safe and secure environment. We only rolled out Harvey to a wider group once we could mitigate its risks, and we continue to gather and act on feedback we receive.

We also established an AI steering committee and an AI brains trust to help our experts understand AI’s current and future capabilities and how it can be harnessed across every area of our business. Alongside this, all our existing governance structures, including our risk committee, now consider generative AI in their day-to-day decisions.

Clear governance and guardrails are critical to successfully deploying AI. We have specific rules of use in place and train our people how to use AI tools effectively and safely.

People are the common thread that runs through all our work with AI. We know that generative AI is an augmentative tool. Everything Harvey produces is rigorously checked, edited and finessed by our team. It enhances the work our lawyers do and helps us produce better results for our clients. In turn, it is governed and augmented by the gold-standard critical thinking and creativity for which A&O Shearman lawyers are known.

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