Spotlight on Legal Interact’s Innovative Use of AI at Microsoft’s AI – A New Era Event

The recent Microsoft AI – A New Era event served as a platform for unveiling the possibilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in modern African society. The insightful welcome session spearheaded by Microsoft’s Chief Data Officer, Ayanda Ngcebetsha, and Digital and App Innovation Manager, Lebogang Madise, set the stage for an engaging discourse on the transformative potential of AI on the continent.

During a session titled ‘The New Wave of AI: An AI Opportunity in Africa’, President of Microsoft Africa, Lillian Barnard, showcased stellar applications of AI within the African ecosystem. Among the highlighted projects were Investec’s ZebraGPT, a foray into generative AI, and Legal Interact’s pioneering venture as the technology partner for South Africa’s first AI Lawyer.

The endorsement by Lillian Barnard underscores the pivotal role that Legal Interact, in collaboration with Microsoft, has embarked on to foster meaningful technological impact and accessibility. The inception of the AI Lawyer is a seminal step towards democratising legal services and counsel for the everyday citizen, particularly in a nation where the dichotomy between the legal workforce and the populace is glaring.

“Legal Interact has demonstrated the power of what Microsoft AI can do by automating some of the tasks required to help clients get the right legal advice, timeously, freeing up time and capacity for practicing attorneys.  It is proof that Generative AI (Gen AI) can work to solve real world challenges, across any industry,” says Dean Erasmus, Director:  Digital Natives at Microsoft Africa.



South Africa is grappling with a high unemployment rate, and the affordability of legal services is an exigency. The stark reality of nearly 30,000 practicing attorneys, as recorded by the Law Society of South Africa as at January 2022, vis-a-vis a population of over 60 million, accentuates the inherent disparity in legal service accessibility. AI emerges as a beacon of hope in ameliorating this imbalance, by propelling a paradigm shift in how legal information and services are disseminated. Through platforms like WhatsApp, AI is inching closer to bridging the legal divide, putting the power of legal knowledge right into the hands of individuals, irrespective of their socioeconomic standing.

The narrative extends beyond mere access to legal services. The advent of AI heralds a new dawn in the realm of alternative legal careers too. Legal Interact staunchly believes in the potential of AI as an enabler, not a usurper, of professional roles within the legal domain. This perspective aligns with the broader sentiment that technology serves as a catalyst for professionals to transcend mundane tasks, thereby channelling their focus towards strategic and operational facets of legal service delivery.

Quote from our Director, Raphael Segal about our AI Lawyer:

“The AI lawyer is more than just an innovation; it embodies our dedication to providing South Africans with accessible, affordable, and efficient legal services, thus generating greater access to justice. This transformative technology is not only an opportunity for empowerment but also a way for us to contribute as world builders, being part of the side of AI for good.”

The announcement of an ambitious initiative to provide AI training for 300,000 South African youth exemplifies the forward-thinking approach adopted at the Microsoft AI – A New Era event. This initiative accentuates the concerted effort to equip the future workforce with the requisite skills to navigate the evolving professional landscape, thereby bolstering career advancement in an increasingly digital world.

In retrospect, the discussions at the Microsoft AI – A New Era event have underscored the important role of AI in not only bridging accessibility gaps but also in fostering an environment conducive to professional progression in any sector. This marks a new era of inclusivity and innovation in the legal sphere of South Africa.

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