West: incubator part of firm-wide tech project

London law firm and alternative business structure Mishcon de Reya has invested cash in two of the six lawtech start-ups that its incubator, MDR LAB, chose from among a crowded field earlier this year.

Mishcon also announced that it would run a similar competition in 2018.

In May, MDR LAB, which launched in January, together with innovation investor L Marks brought in the six tech companies for a 10-week trial of their products.

The law firm has signed an enterprise-wide deal with one of the two investments, collaborative litigation management software  provider, US-based Everchron, to work with its litigators.

As well as taking a stake in it, Mishcon has agreed to work on further development with the creators of timekeeping software Ping, also founded in the US.

The law firm did not disclose the size of the investments. It said it planned to continue to work with the four remaining start-ups chosen in 2017.

Nick West, Mishcon’s chief strategy officer, told Legal Futures that the MDR LAB investments were “just one part of the story” of the firm’s ambition “to transform the way we run our business and do our legal work”.

He continued: “Literally hundreds of Mishcon people – both fee-earners and business ops professionals – were involved in this year’s LAB, working with our cohort of six companies, understanding how their tech could help us deliver better outcomes for clients.

“It’s part of a wider programme of putting tech front and centre of service delivery.”

He added that the first year of MDR LAB had “exceeded our expectations , both in terms of the quality of companies we met and the engagement across the firm”.

The criteria for the companies invited to pitch this year were that they were “early-stage and growth technology start-ups”, including those “at concept through to revenue-generating stage, as long as the product or service was applicable to the legal industry”.

Pitches covered five categories: transactional law, real estate, family law, business law, and litigation.

During the 10-week attachment, all had access to the firm’s lawyers and other business experts for advice and mentorship.

The participating companies were also supported by SeedLegals, an app which assists lawtech founders with advice on carrying out funding rounds.


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