Law firms throw weight behind tech start-ups

Wolfin: Scheme gives startups help without legal fee worries

A London law firm yesterday launched a programme giving non-law tech start-ups already making money free legal advice for six months, and the prospect of investment funds.

Meanwhile, at the same time, magic circle law firm Slaughter and May announced it has selected the first cohort of six lawtech businesses in its new incubator scheme, known as Collaborate.

Mishcon de Reya’s offer to mentor non-law start-ups represents a departure from the firm’s well-established legal space incubator programme, MDR LAB, which began its third year in January.

The programme, M:Tech, aims to recruit new UK-based businesses that are generating revenue with at least one “active client or pilot”, and expect to fundraise in the next six to 18 months.

Competition is open to businesses in the life sciences, leisure and retail, financial services, cyber security, and mobility sectors. Winners chosen will have access to the firm’s 40-lawyer technology group.

They will receive free general legal or commercial advice from a dedicated lawyer for up to six months. They will also qualify for free legal documents, up to 50% off add-on legal help, and the possibility of the firm’s investment in return for a “small equity stake”.

Lead Mishcons partner Andrew Wolfin told Legal Futures: “We have been working with early stage businesses in many sectors for years, as we have always been passionate about entrepreneurs and innovators.

“We launched M:Tech to create a more structured way of offering our expertise and experience to a wider selection of young companies, without them having to focus on fees.

“While the [MDR] LAB was developed specifically to engage with legal technology, M:Tech is open to early-stage businesses in all tech sectors.”

Slaughters’ Collaborate cohort was chosen from among 50 applicants. They will benefit from access to the firm’s lawyers, and testing and feedback panels. They will also receive other assistance.

The group includes Tabled, a legal workflow platform; StructureFlow, described as “a platform which helps lawyers and their clients quickly and easily visualise complex legal structures and transactions”; and Clarilis, a document automation tool.

The others are two artificial intelligence-backed apps: transcription and dictation service JUST:Access and LitiGate litigation solution, and Logiak, an app-builder aimed at non-coders.

The firm said each cohort member would have two mentors, including a lawyer from a relevant practice area.

Slaughter and May partner Anna Lyle-Smythe said: “Collaborate provides a great opportunity for us and our clients to work together with legal tech businesses with exciting potential to bring change to the practice of law.”

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