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Legal IT Wins! Catch up on all the latest deals and moves

Added on the 13th May 2019 at 7:04 am
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So last week was another busy week in the world of legal IT (when is it not) but we’re here with a recap of everything you need to know for the board room/water cooler/out for drinks, come on, it’s nearly summer.

The week started off with our revelation that Hg has acquired Litera Microsystems from K1 Investment Management. Yes they acquired Litera – there was some confusion because HgCapital Trust invested £32.1m but the sum paid by Hg was a) much, much bigger b) undisclosed so we can’t tell you exactly how much. K1 paid around $100m for Microsystems, XRef, Litera and Sackett Group and merged them all, in one of the best recent examples of the private equity sector telling the legal sector it knows best about what is required by its market.

K1 rolled the four vendors up in 2017, so this is a quick turnaround, but speaking about Hg’s acquisition to Legal IT Insider, Litera’s CEO Avaneesh Marwaha said: “We achieved our targets quickly and it shows that the market is keen to move to a consolidated vendor – the market has received it really well.

“For our customers, they aren’t going to see any change as a result of the acquisition by Hg: we are the same company with the same brand and the same values. But as with any new business, Hg will want to accelerate growth and we will take the vision further and faster, which is exciting.”

He adds: “When I go out and meet global CIOs it’s clear that they are excited and asking us to do more: go wider in our product set and deeper in our functionality and we’ll do that either organically where possible but we’ll also look out for acquisitions.” You heard it here first.

There was more good news for Litera last week: it is one of the pre-approved vendors selected for Singapore’s $3.68m Tech-celerate scheme, under which Singapore law firms can receive funding support of up to 70% of the first year’s cost of adoption legal tech solutions.

The other vendors include Thomson Reuters Contract Express and Hotdocs for doc assembly; Relativity, CaseRoom and LegalComet eDiscovery Cloud for ediscovery software and TessaSays for automated client engagement.

Those selected for baseline solutions include CoreMatter; Clio and Tessaract.io for their practice management systems; Dropbox Business; TessaCloud and NetDocuments for document management and Intelllex, Westlaw Asia and Lexis Advance for online legal research.

This is just another example of how the Singapore government is getting behind the legal tech scene after the Singapore Academy of Law launched its Future Law Innovation Programme in 2017.

In news that NetDocuments released last week (much to iManage’s chagrin because it clashed with ConnectLive in New York), Am Law top 50 law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati has swapped out its iManage document management system for NetDocuments, led by chief information officer Michael Lucas, who led the same move while at Akin Gump.

The NetDocuments selection is said to be a key step in Wilson Sonsini’s ongoing strategy to move its entire technology stack to a cloud-based model. The Palo Alto-headquartered firm, which has rolled out cloud ERP Workday, conducted a review of both NetDocuments and iManage Cloud led by Lucas and his team.

Lucas told Legal IT Insider: “I’ve worked at Hogan Lovells, which is moving to NetDocuments, and at Akin Gump, where I signed the deal with NetDocuments. I had a lot of familiarity with both products and a lot of respect for both management teams but where we landed was that we thought the SaaS platform of NetDocuments was very strong and they’ve been doing it for a long time. It was a platform play and a cloud play and at Wilson we continue to implement cloud solutions. We’re doing Office 365 now and my goal is to be pretty much pure cloud by 2020.”

Elsewhere, last week there was more good news for Peppermint Technology, as we revealed that Carey Olsen is “on the start of the Peppermint journey” including looking at Peppermint’s practice management system and other offerings after a successful business development CRM solution implementation across its nine offices.

The leading offshore firm went live on the CRM solution in June 2018 and in the first four months, 6,000 new contacts were added; open rates were up by 55%; click rates up by 26%; while undeliverables went down by 14% and unsubscribes by 70%.

James Prouten, group head of technology at Carey Olsen, said: “We are on the start of the Peppermint journey and are actively looking at Peppermint’s online portal, practice management system and other offerings.”

You can read more about that in our CRM report out today (13 May – we may have said it would be published on 8 May, doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun.)

In further news (and in one of those press releases that leaves you with more questions than answers) Allen & Overy has signed an agreement for the use of Eigen Technologies’ natural language processing tech. A&O is the second magic circle firm to have confirmed its adoption of Eigen’s NLP product after Linklaters became its first client in 2015.

We like Eigen despite the mystery over what A&O is using Eigen for, look forward to hearing more. Eigen also signed LOD (Lawyers On Demand) earlier this year, as part of a new LOD client offering called Designed Solutions. The company is believed to be working with other law firms on a confidential basis. Clients outside the legal space include Goldman Sachs, Hiscox and ING.

As we revealed on 10 May, in a great example of vendor collaboration that has received plaudits on social media, Neota Logic and LawGeex have paired up to offer clients an automated third party NDA approval process in a move that is expected to be widened to cover a number of different contractual scenarios.

The integration developed out of work that Neota is doing for one of the top five property and casualty insurance corporations in the US, helping them to automate the NDA creation process using standard templates and DocuSign for e-signatures.  When it came to third parties that insisted on using their own NDAs, the process would again become manual and laborious, with the third party uploading their NDA to be emailed for manual review.

Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Neota’s director of business development, Mark Surico said: “This is a pretty common situation. We often get clients asking what happens in that situation and the answer was that our systems covers the drafting of your documents but not third party paper. What the client decided to do in this situation was to find a company that does do that, and that is LawGeex.”

Through the integration with LawGeex, clients can now automatically send their NDA to be reviewed against stipulated terms or standards, with the red lined agreement returned for review, approval and execution.

Surico says: “Now when a third party says ‘I want to upload my own NDA’ instead of going to a legal reviewer for manual review, it goes directly to LawGeex and they provide automatic feedback, providing a whole solution for the NDA review process.”

Commenting on the news, David Griffin, head of legal & governance systems and change at BT said quite simply: “Brilliant!”

And last but not least on the deals front there’s been more large seed investment this time for Melbourne and German legal tech startups Josef and rfrnz respectively, which have both raised seven figure sums.

Josef closed $1m from VC Jelix and angel investors including Kara Frederick, MD of Tiger Financial Group, and Ben Armstrong, previously a principal at Telstra Ventures.

Josef enables lawyers to build bots to automate client conversation and help draft legal documents. While it’s still very early days for this technology interestingly, clients include Herbert Smith Freehills, where partner Mike Gonski said: “Josef is the first software I have seen where the lawyer is empowered to turn their process into a chatbot or an app rather than needing to pay a developer to do it for them.

“That is game changing as it has never been worth the cost of paying the developer when right now it is cheaper to just do it the old-fashioned way and keep the process on a piece of paper or an excel spreadsheet. Hopefully chatbots will take off so that they can deal with repetitive, cookie cutter work and lawyers can spend their time coming up with bespoke, commercial solutions for their clients.”

Rfrnz uses machine learning and NLP to automate the contract review process – it got €1m Euros from backers including High-Tech Gründerfonds and UnternehmerTUM Initiative for Industrial Innovators.

People and places

HFW has appointed its first ever innovation partner: Brian Perrott, a litigation lawyer, takes on the role as HFW also created an innovation committee. Speaking to Legal IT Insider last week, HFW’s managing partner Jeremy Shebson told us: ““We have always been a very creative and entrepreneurial firm, with lots of exciting ideas,” Shebson told Legal IT Insider. “This is simply about creating a structure to harness that creativity from across the entire firm and help put the best ideas into practice.”

HFW’s innovation committee is currently in the process of collecting and reviewing ideas. The intention is for the group to submit at least three projects to the management board for consideration within the next six months.

The appointment of an innovation partner is the latest example of HFW’s attempts to modernise its technology and processes. While Perrott’s appointment was made by Shebson, this overhaul really began with the appointment of Chris White as CIO in September last year.

And Sophie Gould has left LexisNexis where she led the in-house offering to join F-LEX as head of learning and development. F-LEX connects law students to firms and general counsel via its online platform. Gould has worked in the legal sector for 25 years and says: “F-LEX proves that any sector can benefit from innovation – even one with traditions as deep-rooted as the legal industry.” Indeed.

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