Cambridge firm makes AI company its second tech investment

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13 April 2016


Meyer:

Meyer: new ways to address client needs

Taylor Vinters will this week implement artificial intelligence (AI) contract review software developed by a law tech company that the Cambridge-based law firm has invested in.

Last month another tech investment by the firm, Pekama, launched a mobile app that was heralded as a game changer in the way lawyers communicate.

Matt Meyer, Taylor Vinters’ chief executive, said the investment in ThoughtRiver, a legal tech start-up whose Contract Intelligence software scans and interprets information from written contracts used in commercial risk assessment, “fits squarely with our strategy of finding new ways to address client needs outside of a traditional law firm service model”.

The law firm will begin testing the AI software with its international clients and introduce it to selected corporate clients in the UK and Singapore in the next few months.

The amount invested by Taylor Vinters is undisclosed. The technology company will be based at the firm’s Cambridge, London and Singapore offices.

The founder of ThoughtRiver is Tim Pullan, who was formerly Taylor Vinters’ head of technology and outsourcing in Asia. He founded the company in 2011 and since then has been developing the technology business with the law firm.

Mr Pullan told Legal Futures that the company’s next move would be into connecting contracts with litigation outcomes. He said: “What we will be building over time, based on millions of transactions, are correlations between contract scenarios and litigation and other suboptimal outcomes. So in a given contract we will be able to heat map key vulnerabilities based on fact, not opinion.“

Mr Meyer insisted that the introduction of AI software would not threaten Taylor Vinters’ lawyers, saying: “We believe law is inherently human and so is its application. There will always be a role for in-house or external legal to play but the impact of technology and data on achieving these big picture goals is only just becoming apparent.”

Mr Pullan echoed the point: “This is not about replacing lawyers with robots; it’s about freeing up lawyers to focus on more valuable activities.”

He said the use of the technology was necessary: “The opportunity is the productivity gap. It took the same amount of time 20 years ago to review a contract as it does today. While other professions such as accountancy and marketing have found ways of producing outcomes faster, cheaper and better using automation tools and daring to rethink things, the legal profession lags behind.

Mr Pullan claimed that ThoughtRiver would improve the firm’s performance: “By harnessing powerful analytical software, [it] catches compliance and commercial risks that could be otherwise missed, brings the data alive with compelling visuals and puts powerful quantitative insights into the hands of risk management and legal staff.

“More meaningful data and insight means more influence for corporate counsel in performance improvement and strategic decisions.”

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