Deloitte Legal joins tech lab bandwagon

Castle: Legal tech lagging behind other industries

The UK legal arm of big four accountant Deloitte has become the latest law firm to launch an incubator for lawtech start-ups.

Among the 14 companies – chosen from a field of 400 of varying maturity – are those producing apps to manage contract automation, to help sort emails and documents, to map complex people relationships, and one that generates online video for training legal teams in “bite-size” chunks.

Only this week, a report on investment in legal services by lobby group TheCityUK highlighted the major role tech labs have had in fuelling the growth of the lawtech sector.

The first cohort of the Deloitte Legal Ventures programme will be given “access to consulting, technology, legal and investment experts from across Deloitte” in line with its ‘venture path’ methodology, which it describes as an “approach for enabling large enterprises to respond to disruption and innovate faster and cheaper than ever before”.

Several of the start-ups selected are aimed at improving the workflow of global corporate legal teams, and were chosen for their “alignment to Deloitte Legal’s current and future legal technology capability”.

In a statement, Deloitte said almost two-thirds of the selected companies had commercial relationships with existing clients and the remainder were “either at a very-early, pre-revenue stage of development, or have chosen to work with Deloitte Legal in order to develop their offering further in a sandbox environment”.

Others are familiar names, such as predictive analytics company CourtQuant and curated app platform Reynen Court.

Start-ups in the cohort include Avvoka, an end-to-end contract automation tool which is already in use by Allen & Overy, Baker McKenzie and Slaughter and May.

One product aimed squarely at in-house teams is Tabled, which covers matter management, team collaboration, and document analysis. Earlier this week, we reported its chief executive saying that law firms were “way ahead” of in-house lawyers in adopting lawtech and the latter needed to “grasp the nettle”.

Autologyx promises to assist with a wide range of corporate needs – it is a platform that introduces automation into several digital operations, including legal, compliance, workforce management and financial services.

Kormoon is a product that targets the legal and regulatory compliance sector and says it “harnesses artificial intelligence to provide more effective means of legal advice to help you engage with your legal teams”.

Juralio aims to bring order to mounds of documents and emails, and large groups of people carrying out different activities. To do this, among other things it represents complex legal matters as “interactive maps and timelines”.

To help sort out the best tech to adopt and exploit more fully that for which companies already have licences, Sente Advisors supplies a team of legal tech innovators expert in the “increasingly complex and ever-evolving legal technology landscape”.

Finally, Crafty Counsel calls itself “the home of online video for legal teams” and offers “smart, bite-size learning on demand”.

Deloitte Legal’s managing partner Michael Castle said: “New technologies have revolutionised a number of industries in recent years, but so far the legal sector has lagged behind.

“Collaborating with pioneering companies will drive innovation forward, allowing both parties to benefit from cumulative learning.

“We believe this is a different approach that will redefine the way legal services will be delivered in the future.”

Laura Bygrave, innovation and ventures lead, added: “Complex buying processes within large corporates can mean early stage companies go out of business by the time a decision to proceed is made.

“We are focused on developing long-term, meaningful relationships with these companies. Starting as the user enables us to understand how a product or service can transform how we work and how it can benefit our clients.

“Importantly, we are not seeking to achieve exclusivity through these relationships; we do not want to impose any restrictions that could hinder product development and growth.”

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