Deloitte Legal launches next generation technology programme

Deloitte Legal is today announcing the launch of Deloitte Legal Ventures, a new programme that re-imagines how lawyers engage with early stage companies.

Nearly 400 pre-seed to Series A companies were analysed and evaluated based on their products, teams and alignment to Deloitte Legal’s current and future legal technology capability. Following this extensive analysis, 14 companies were hand-selected to form the first cohort of the Deloitte Legal Ventures programme.

The chosen companies operate in areas such as execution technology, artificial intelligence, data analytics and predictive analytics. The programme will see Deloitte Legal become a user of the products and services offered by the chosen start-ups.

Deloitte Legal Ventures will provide the companies with access to consulting, technology, legal and investment experts from across Deloitte. Through Deloitte’s proprietary Venture Path methodology, these experts will stress-test products, services, business models and strategies in a transparent and structured way to identify scalability. This will in turn accelerate the on-boarding, uptake and usage of the products and services.

Laura Bygrave, innovation and Ventures lead at Deloitte Legal, commented: “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.”

Michael Castle, managing partner for Deloitte Legal, added: “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.”

Proving the proof-of-concept

A significant focus of the Deloitte Legal Ventures programme will be around accurately measuring the proof-of-concept process. For each company, a prioritised set of assumptions will be tested using specific metrics that will allow both parties to agree on what success looks like from the outset.

Almost two-thirds of the selected companies already have operational products or services with a number of existing clients. The rest of the cohort are 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.

Scott Campbell, partner at Deloitte and leader of Deloitte Ventures, commented: “The process of working with big businesses can mean start-up companies often struggle to understand how their proof-of-concepts are being measured. In reality, big businesses can be nervous to let pilots loose on real customers, and the business and the start-up often need to adapt in line with advancing technology and changing expectations. We’re looking forward to providing transparency and clarity around this critical factor which can be the difference between success and failure.”

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The Asian law firms investing in legal technology

In a highly competitive and low-growth market, firms are increasingly turning to technology and innovation to stay ahead of competition while boosting efficiency and profitability. Asia-based firms are no exception. Those in Australia and Singapore, where growth has been harder to achieve, are leading the charge.

Over the past few years, ‘legal hackathon’ and ‘design thinking’ have become the most frequently used buzzwords among the managing partners of Australian firms. In response to demands for greater value from sophisticated clients, Australian firms are the most advanced group in the Asia-Pacific 100 when it comes to innovation and technology.

KWM, for example, uses a variety of AI products and software either to improve efficiency, for work such as due diligence and discovery, or to help build up contracts. It has also developed its own web-based programs and apps to navigate clients through regulatory and compliance requirements, and to assist with graduate recruitment. Its ‘Being a Clerk’ app aims to help new recruits make the most of their KWM experience.

To generate growth in a highly competitive and increasingly sophisticated market, Clayton Utz recently formalised its innovation strategy, appointing a director of innovation and an innovation team made up of 81 professionals. They employ a science-based approach to grow the firm’s business and address clients’ needs.

Meanwhile, Gilbert + Tobin has been training its lawyers to code software with US smart contract firm Taylor Gerring and invested in start-up online legal services provider LegalVision. In addition, its internal legal transformation team launched the Smart Counsel app to provide free legal resources and answers to in-house lawyers. The firm hosts ‘legal hackathons’ with major clients such as Westpac to develop and prototype innovative solutions to a range of common legal requests and operational issues.

Australia’s mid-tier firms, which probably face the strongest squeeze in the market, are also embracing change. Hall & Wilcox is a leader among its peers. Recently, it deepened its commitment to innovation by appointing legal IT professional Peter Campbell as director for client solutions. The move is set to drive forward a ‘Smarter Law’ strategy, with initiatives such as the development of client-facing technology, improved project management methodology, business process improvement and developing the firm’s knowledge management strategy. Teaming up with technology firm Neota Logic, Hall & Wilcox has also launched a web application that makes it faster and easier for workers’ compensation insurance providers to pursue recoveries.

Elsewhere, South-East Asian network Zico Law and Indian firm Cyril are pioneers in adopting AI and technologies to improve the efficiency and delivery of legal services. Malaysia-based Zico Law’s affiliated listed entity, ZICO Holdings, has launched a subsidiary, ShakeUp Online, to provide professional services over the internet and transform the way in which services are delivered and consumed. ShakeUp is collaborating with the UK’s legal document automation system provider, Epoq Legal, through a Licence and Support Agreement. Initially, ShakeUp aims to provide affordable online legal services to small and medium-sized enterprises in the ASEAN region, offering access to high-quality legal documents that are easy to understand and simple to use. The platform also plans to partner with large companies to help improve the quality and cost-efficiency of their in-house support services.

Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM) has become the first firm in India to improve efficiency, accuracy and the delivery speed of certain legal services using AI. In January 2017, it signed an agreement with Canada-based Kira Systems, a machine-learning software provider. In May, CAM appointed legal operations manager Komal Gupta as its first head of innovation and AI. Previously vice-president of Integreon Managed Solutions, she will develop and drive the firm’s innovation strategy.