An October 5th press release (PDF) reports that Mavent has supplied Fannie Mae with an expert system to review loans for compliance with various statutues, regs, and guidelines. 

According to the release

“The Mavent Expert System is a comprehensive automated solution that submits loan data for reviews against nearly 300 legislative acts, 200 license types, and the rules and regulations of over 60 regulatory authorities. The solution’s review functions include: loan level lender and broker license reviews; state consumer credit laws relating to such terms as usury, fee restrictions, prepayment penalties, and late fees… A network of more than 40 law firms, including such prominent firms as Hudson Cook and Reed Smith, supports the Mavent Expert System. Mavent’s outside counsel has approved each rule in the Mavent Expert System. The legal rules are identified and explained in approximately 7,000 pages of detailed legal rules documentation. [emphasis added]”

Based on my experience as a knowledge engineer, consultant, and evangelist at expert-system platform developer Jnana Technologies, I have long been excited about the prospect of capturing legal know-how in interactive expert systems.

I am intrigued by the participation of 40 law firms in this project, especially the economics. To me, an expert system represents an opportunity for a law firm to help cement a relationship and possibly identify matters requiring traditional counseling. It’s hard to tell from the press release or Maven web site, but I suspect that law firms acted here merely as content providers (at hourly rates??) If so, I wonder if these firms may not someday regret selling expertise on this basis, rather than finding ways to deliver interactively to their own clients. I am excited to see a new expert system in action, but worry that law firms may be letting more nimble players eat away at what, for today, seems the periphery of the business but may someday be viewed as core.

Comments from anyone who was involved in this project are welcome.