Biglaw Firms Become Tech Incubators

Increasingly, innovative legal technology is emerging from an incongruous breeding ground — large law firms. And the firms that are incubating these companies are most likely to be found not in the U.S., but in the U.K.

Three of these incubators have been in the news lately, as they have announced their second startup cohorts, and all are based in London: Fuse, a tech innovation space opened by Allen & Overy last September; MDR LAB, founded in May 2017 by Mishcon de Reya; and Fintech Fast Forward, launched in March 2017 by Slaughter and May.


Allen & Overy’s Fuse is a tech innovation space where companies, Allen & Overy lawyers, technologists, and clients can collaborate to explore, develop, and test legal, regulatory, and deal-related technologies. It is run by Shruti Ajitsaria, a lawyer who conceived of the idea when attending Google’s startup school for moms while on maternity leave.

The companies selected to be part of its second cohort and move into its space this month are:

Bloomsbury AI, a company that uses natural language understanding, cognitive capabilities and machine learning to create virtual assistants that can be taught to read, reason, and communicate. Kira Systems, which provides machine learning technology for document review and analysis. Neota Logic, a company whose AI-powered app development platform enables professionals to build and deploy applications that automate legal expertise, processes, and documents. Regnosys, a fintech company that leverages the open source to deliver “machine executable regulation” and drive radical change in the financial industry’s approach to regulatory compliance. Signal Media, a firm that applies AI to millions of content sources — from news media to global regulatory updates — to develop actionable business knowledge and help business manage risks and opportunities.

Three companies are staying on from Fuse’s first cohort: Avvoka, Legatics, and Nivaura.


Mishcon de Reya’s incubator program MDR LAB works with early-stage and growth technology startups. Companies selected to participate spend 10 weeks working alongside the firm’s lawyers and business operations teams to develop and test their products. Nick West, MDR’s chief technology officer, oversees the program.

Last week, MDR LAB named the five companies it has selected to participate in its second year. They were selected from among 16 companies that participated in a pitch day at the firm’s London headquarters. Two of the selected companies are based in the U.K., two in the U.S., and one in Israel.

The companies selected for MDR LAB are:

Thirdfort, a London company founded in September 2017 whose product is a web-hosted software platform facilitating exchange of money in property transactions. DealWIP, a Brooklyn, NY, company founded in June 2017, which is building an integrated legal workspace platform for transactional lawyers. LitiGate, based in Tel Aviv, a company that is developing an arguments-analysis solution for faster and lower-cost dispute resolution using advanced AI algorithms. Digitory Legal, a San Francisco company founded in 2016 that whose produce is a pricing prediction and management tool for litigators. It uses historical data and industry trends to help customers understand what legal matters cost and why. LawPanel, a London company founded in 2016, it offers an online trademark management platform, designed to allow firms to deliver more of their services online.

In November, the firm said that it invested in two of the companies from its first cohort: Everchron, developers of collaborative litigation management software, and Ping, whose product automates timekeeping for lawyers and provides data analysis for law firms.

Fintech Fast Forward

Slaughter and May’s Fintech Fast Forward supports early- and mid-stage U.K.-based technology entrepreneurs and innovators that focus on financial services. Participating companies receive support and services valued at £30,000, including legal support, access to model documents and agreements, coaching, and introductions and networking opportunities.

Selected for its second cohort were:

Digital Fineprint, a company that helps insurance companies use social media data to find customer and risk insights. Flock, a London-based insurtech that is building a big data-driven risk intelligence platform for drones. Its first product, launched in partnership with Allianz, the world’s largest aviation insurer, is a pay-as-you-fly insurance and safety application for commercial and recreational drone pilots. Multiply, a company that has created a machine-learning platform that provides interactive, adaptive, personalized financial plans with specific product recommendations across their clients’ entire financial world: savings, investments, protection, and mortgages. Tab, a company using big data engineering to capture data points from thousands of crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending marketplaces to help their clients identify trends and market signals and to monitor opportunity and risk. TrueLayer, a company building an API tool to enable fintechs and other service providers to capitalize on the open banking initiative by breaking down points of friction and providing secure, clear, and simple access to banking infrastructure. Valsys, a company that is using machine learning and AI to facilitate private company valuations with improved accuracy and performance.

It is run by the co-heads of the firm’s fintech team, Ben Kingsley and Rob Sumroy.

Some would say that large law firms represent the antithesis of innovation. But these three programs and others like them are helping innovative startups take root and thrive.

This article provided by NewsEdge.