Gowling WLG has entered a 50:50 joint venture with existing tech partner Purple Frog Text to launch real-estate AI start-up Avail in order to make a leap ‘from clever to user friendly IT’. This is the first time the firm has made an investment of this nature, according to real estate partner Mike Twining.
“A lot of the work I do involves bids on large portfolios, often requiring quick turnarounds,” Twining told Legal IT Insider. “We have trialed many technologies to help us, including a software company called Purple Frog Text.
“What we found with these businesses is that whilst it is all very clever and the IT is really cool, the output just isn’t client or lawyer friendly,” he added. “We started reversing that and that was the origin that spawned Avail. As well as funding, we can offer legal clarity and nous, alongside their technological excellence.”
Avail’s real estate due diligence Title Register Review App enables instant reporting on official copies, allowing lawyers to rapidly identify issues within a portfolio of properties and advise their client. Its Property Searches App, meanwhile, extracts key information from multiple documents relating to a property to allow the rapid collation of a summary report, increasing the efficiency of legal services for clients.
On one case, Gowling used the software to review more than 9,000 title documents and condense it down to a list of titles with potential for third party restrictions or involvements within a matter of hours.
“If you are bidding on a 50 site portfolio, for example, and want to be able to deliver a bit of legal certainty as part of your bid without huge cost, what Avail can offer is high level title review, lease review and searches review,” Twining explained. “It can quickly tell you that what you are about to do won’t be catastrophic, or that out of the 50 sites, perhaps three may be problematic.”
The Avail joint venture is just a small part of Gowling’s innovation agenda, according to Twining, but it is the only formal investment that the firm has made. “I think that is primarily because we saw the demand,” he said. “We have spoken to plenty of other lawyers that have had the same experiences as us and we recognised the need to make that leap from clever IT to something that is user friendly and genuinely drives timetables. This is something that has not previously been out there in the market. It is not about making lawyers redundant, it’s about making sure people can do more things, more quickly, and at different points in the deal cycle.”
By Amy Carroll