“If you’re not looking for a return on investment, why not?”

Exigent’s chief executive David Holme is not talking about cash or property but the mountain of contracts and unstructured data that many established corporates, financial institutions and law firms are still sitting on, which, he says, are quite often “filed on an F:Drive” or lost to a PDF.

“We have a major North American bank as a client and they have $1bn of contracts but don’t run any analytics – everyone assumes the accountants or procurement do it. We’re saying this is so valuable, why would you have a $1bn of assets and not monitor or monetise it?”

Holme’s comments come following a deal just announced with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, partnering with the top 20 global firm to offer its clients a contract lifecycle management solution. The new offering comes after the pair formed an alliance last autumn to offer cross-border litigation support and e-Discovery solutions to corporates.

The first stage now will be to analyse and extract risk from client contracts using Exigent’s proprietary contract management solution Chameleon, which combines a financial risk assessment tool with data analytics. Holme said: “There’s risk and there’s cost. The risk might cost $1 or it may be a tiny risk that costs $1bn. It’s about qualification of risk.

“To say I haven’t got a process or a clue what our risk is is unacceptable in today’s environment,” he adds.

The risk assessment tool stems from hypothesis-based thinking and risk analytics based on algorithms long used in the accountancy world. Holme, who was formerly a manager at KPMG and after that a director at Bridgepoint Capital, said: “Quite often the legal industry thinks of risk in binary terms but it’s made up of a number of factors.”

In addition to its recent deal with Morgan Lewis, Exigent, which has eight offices globally and three operating centres in Bangalore, Cape Town and Perth, has just signed a deal direct with a “global brand”, yet to be announced, to apply financial analytics to its contracts. It follows a change in strategic direction around two years ago when Exigent bought a technology business in India with a built in contract management solution, which it has invested in heavily.

While Chameleon is capable of comparing, contrasting and analysing contracts for competitive advantage, Holme says it an also be used collaboratively as a form of benchmarking tool, a space where Exigent is also talking to a number of banks.

Ultimately, the idea would be to save money, for example in not negotiating a certain point if it’s effectively industry standard, or being able to take a quicker call on enforcing certain obligations.

Circling back to ROI, Holme said: “I’m not interested in engaging a client that can’t see how they can make a commercial gain.”