AI contract service secures financial backing

Mabey: important legal backing

A web-based service which uses artificial intelligence (AI) rather than lawyers to give business clients crucial information about their contracts – and already works with Deliveroo – has secured a second round of funding from high-profile investors.

Juro raised an initial €75,000 last February from European start-up specialist Seedcamp, but has now received a further $750,000 (£615,000) in seed funding.

This came from Seedcamp and Point Nine Capital, as well as individual investors, such as Michael Pennington, co-founder of Gumtree, Paul Forster, co-founder of global job website, and some general counsel at FTSE top 250 companies.

Richard Mabey, chief executive of Juro and a one-time associate at City giant Freshfields, described this legal backing as “very important”.

He said he received a number of offers from venture capital funds, and chose Berlin-based Point Nine Capital because of its expertise in software investments.

Juro is based in Shoreditch, London’s tech hub, with six staff, which Mr Mabey said would expand to 10 by the end of March and 20 by the end of the year. He expects Juro to process over 100,000 contracts by the end of 2017.

He said the service was the first contract management tool to use machine learning, a form of AI, to help clients understand the “rich data” within their contracts.

“We’re not telling people that their contracts are going to be run by robots. What AI does is help them make better decisions.

“What we find exciting is to see the real-world application of this technology actually happening. We offer a tool which completely takes away the manual element of preparing a contract.

“Our ultimate goal is to enable in-house lawyers to deliver better legal services by helping them make better decisions. Technology is not the only answer, but it certainly helps.”

Mr Mabey said Juro could tell clients which clauses were the most likely to be rejected by their customers and which were the most hotly-contested during negotiation. It could also provide detailed statistics, such as the average duration of non-disclosure agreements in contracts over the last six months.

He said the machine-learning element was part of Juro’s “end-to-end solution”, which handles contracts from generation, through negotiation and electronic signing, to archiving and management.

Most of Juro’s clients, such as online food company Deliveroo, had a “very high volume” of contracts – in Deliveroo’s case, with tens of thousands of restaurants.

He explained that Juro’s contracts are not modified templates written in Word, but html documents written in code, which appear on a browser.

“We can integrate our documents with other business systems, so clients can pull details of customers from [customer relationship management system] Salesforce, for example, and integrate this instantly.

“After the internal approval process is over, the contract is sent to the other party via an automated e-mail. Clicking a button enables it to be viewed on a browser – there is no need for an attachment.

“Comments can be posted and text highlighted through Juro, entirely outside the world of e-mail. When agreement is reached, we have our own electronic signature solution.

“Because our contracts are written in code, we know exactly what they say. We can send clients an e-mail saying ‘this contract expires in six months, would you like to renew’?”

In a separate development, global legal outsourcer Exigent has launched an AI-based contract “discovery and processing” tool to help companies with their contract management.

Chameleon, developed in partnership with Chicago-based tech firm LexPredict, was supported by “lawyers and analysts trained in machine learning and natural language processing”.

An Exigent spokeswoman went on: “Material of any type, including e-mails, is fed to the system, which sorts them automatically and identifies legally relevant items and standard clauses.

“Exigent lawyers then train the system to recognise and classify custom or complex clauses, moving away from a simple yes/no binary identification so typical of other machine learning products on the market.”

She said one of Chameleon’s uses was in due diligence for M&A transactions.

David Holme, chief executive of Exigent, commented: “The reality is that most organisations don’t even know where their contracts are and they find themselves stuck with technology that only works with a rigid set of rules that doesn’t meet their business needs.

“We offer companies the opportunity to start sorting out their contracts in a quick and sophisticated way, using both technology and clever lawyers to enhance the process.”

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