Clifford Chance has selected opensource contract analytics platform ContraxSuite to underpin its new data science lab and help it build document analysis solutions for its clients. This is a tech/services play as the firm will also be supported by specialists in AI and data science at Elevate, which acquired ContraxSuite as part of its acquisition of LexPredict in November 2018.

Clifford Chance Labs was formally launched in July 2018 – designed to foster internal idea generation and interdisciplinary solution development.

While ContraxSuite can be hosted on a firm’s own servers or hosted by LexPredict/Elevate in the cloud, Clifford Chance was clear at the time of its launch that Labs is a cloud platform.

“Our clients will benefit from the efficiency, power, and flexibility of a legal AI toolset that is already configured to solve many known problems,” said Paul Greenwood (pictured), chief information officer at Clifford Chance. “ContraxSuite’s flexibility, coupled with ready access to experts in legal AI and data science at Elevate will enable us to build a wide range of AI-powered solutions, many of which haven’t even been contemplated yet.”

“We designed ContraxSuite as a set of modules that can work with each other in many different ways,” said Dan Katz, VP of innovation and data science at Elevate. “For example, the system has a customizable UI, a module for natural language processing (LexNLP), a module for analyzing the SEC’s public database (OpenEDGAR), and several other tools, all of which can be used in different combinations. This architecture enables faster, more nimble solutioning than many typical standalone products.”

LexNLP can help organizations extract information and build custom document analytics across a wide range of problems, including contract harmonization, diligence and M&A, supply chain and vendor management, and real estate and lease abstraction.

Before selecting ContraxSuite, Clifford Chance used the software to complete a “real-world project” for a global banking client. Among ContraxSuite’s pre-configured solutions are several customised for banking and finance, including LIBOR-related analysis and remediation.

This is the second international law firm to publicly select ContraxSuite in the past 12 months: in August 2018 Baker McKenzie announced that it had partnered with ContraxSuite/LexPredict, prior to its acquisition by Elevate.

According to Greenwood, Clifford Chance reviewed “other leading products” and chose this technology platform in part because of its advanced data security architecture. The pilot project for the firm’s banking client is said to have demonstrated that ContraxSuite’s data security meets the most stringent client data security requirements, including one of the world’s largest banks.

Elevate is arguably a competitor of Kira Systems, which is one of three core technologies in use by lawyers at Clifford Chance as part of the firm’s condensed ‘best delivery’ toolkit.

However, Greenwood told us: “Kira is still the tool for lawyers to use directly. The UI and workflow are carefully designed with lawyers in mind and work well for them.  However, ContraxSuite is more of a flexible toolkit we have chosen for our data science team that allows them to build bespoke solutions. I think we will see more of law firms choosing different machine learning tools for different purposes.”

Clifford Chance’s head of data science is Mirko Bernardoni, who, according to his profile on LinkedIn, is building the innovation and data science lab. The lab falls under the umbrella of ‘Clifford Chance Create’, which is chaired by global head of innovation, Bas Boris Visser.

Elevate, which in June raised $25m in funding in June and is aiming for a 2021 public listing, has grown substantially over the past few months, acquiring five companies in less than three months, including flexible resource company Halebury in January. At the time of that acquisition, it announced it has converted to become an alternative business structure in the UK.