With the festive season fading into memory, legal tech news is already flowing thick and fast so here is an end of the week water cooler catch up on all you need to know. With news of Juro + Reynen Court + Elevate + ZERO + SYKE + Legility + Allen & Overy FUSE + Slaughter and May Collaborate + BLM + VerQu.

Funding

There was not much rest for Juro over Christmas as they negotiated their latest fundraising. The UK headquartered contract management platform has raised a $5m Series A led by New York-based Union Square Ventures (USV) – the backers of Twitter, Twilio, Etsy and Kickstarter – amid a number of other high profile backers.

USV, which is an investor in legal research company Casetext, was joined in the round by existing investors including Point Nine Capital, Seedcamp, Taavet Hinrikus (co-founder of TransferWise) and Paul Forster (co-founder of Indeed). The Series A takes Juro’s total funds raised to $8m.

The investment will see Juro launch in the United States and you can read our interview with CEO Richard Mabey to find out more on that.

In other funding news, new technology onboarding platform Reynen Court told us that it is “ahead of plan” as it this week announced that it has secured a further $3 million of additional financing in preparation for its Q1 2020 commercial launch.

Prins H LLC, an investment vehicle controlled by Reynen Court founder and CEO Andy Klein, is investing in this round together with Ventech, a global early-stage venture capital fund that partners with entrepreneurs to develop and deploy transformative technologies. This round follows the company’s initial $7 million funding in December 2018 by Prins H, Latham & Watkins and Clifford Chance.

Klein said: “We are actually ahead of plan positively, though of course we are carrying the costs of a pretty senior/full team.  In fact, we will start revenues this month as opposed to the original plan of March.  This second financing will allow us to defer a larger round until after revenues are more substantial. We may screw up in the future but so far we are firing strongly on all cylinders. Prins H is pleased to invest further. And we are very excited to have secured Ventech’s support.  They are a super European and China-focused VC.” Recent hires include head of sales Rich Rifkin, CFO Kathy Willing and head of strategy Christian Lang.

Hires

Brian Kuhn has joined Elevate as vice president of Elevate’s new digital strategy and solutions business unit, focused “on helping law departments and law firms capitalize on the digital technologies and related best practices.”

Kuhn will report to Liam Brown, Elevate’s Chairman and CEO.

The creation of Elevate’s new digital strategy and solutions business unit follows the 2019 acquisition of legal AI tools and data science consulting business, LexPredict.

“According to a 2019 Deloitte Digital Insights survey of 1200 CEOs1, digital transformation has risen to the top of their agendas, but 57% are concerned they don’t have the structure, people or processes in place,” said Brown. “Law departments and law firms face increasing pressure to operate differently, yet meeting this challenge requires help beyond their internal resources. With Brian leading our new Digital Strategy and Solutions practice, we will help our customers thrive in the coming wave of digitization.”

Elsewhere it’s all go for ZERØ as Kurt Anderson joins the email management vendor as senior account executive based in Minnesota. He is one of three new joiners at the start of this year.

Anderson joins from technology outsourcing firm Element Technologies and before that spent five years at NetDocuments.

Also joining this week is Richard Sheffield, an account executive from iManage who joins as senior account executive and a further, as yet to be officially announced senior hire, who will join the California-headquartered company next week.

And SYKE’s growth continues as they hunt for new legal engineers in Paris. Posting on LinkedIn CEO Alistair Maiden on 9 January said: “Hello LinkedIn hivemind. We are planning to establish a team in Paris and are looking for lawyers who want to retrain as legal engineers. Full training provided. No agencies please.”

Maiden told Legal IT Insider: “Although to-date we have seen little use of legal tech in French, (or any languages other than English), one of our big-bets for 2020 is for our work in non-English languages to triple. We need fluent French capability to augment our existing capability in Spanish, Portuguese, German, Russian, Bahassa and Mandarin.”

You can reply to the LinkedIn post here: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/alistair-maiden-04853927_hello-linkedin-hivemind-we-are-planning-activity-6620949633646501888-FZjG

Acquisitions

Legal operations services provider Legility on 7 January announced the acquisition of Inventus, a leading international eDiscovery services provider with locations across Europe, Asia, and North America.

The companies will combine business operations in early 2020.

Legility CEO Barry Dark said: “This combination creates tremendous value for our customers through the broader set of services that we can offer together and the upgraded capabilities coming from the combined team. This transaction increases our global footprint and expands our capabilities in eDiscovery, as well as in non-litigation domains at the intersection of people, process, and technology. Inventus is well-established in Asia, the UK, and continental Europe as well as in complementary North American markets.”

Incubators

Allen & Overy’s tech innovation space Fuse is now open to companies wishing to apply for a space in its fourth cohort, as it launches a pilot with current Fuse member Define within the high yield bond team.

Applications for Fuse can be submitted for a fairly short window of time: from 13 January 2020 until the end of the month with a pitch day to follow in February. Applicants will be asked to describe their team and the problems they are aiming to solve.

Define was founded by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer lawyers Feargus MacDaeid and Nnamdi Emelifeonwu and helps lawyers to quickly review defined terms. Ajitsaria told Legal IT Insider: “We’re piloting Define in our high yield bond team and seeing what impact it has on the review of those contracts because high yield bond contracts are notoriously long and difficult to manage. If it can manage those it can manage other contracts.”

And Slaughter and May on 6 January announced a second cohort of the firm’s legal tech programme – Collaborate.

Slaughter and May will select six-eight legal tech businesses to form the 2020 cohort, with each being assigned two dedicated Slaughter and May mentors; a member of the firm’s Knowledge and Innovation Team and a practising lawyer from a relevant legal group.

Selected companies will have access to the firm’s lawyers and information security team, a sandbox environment including dummy data, and the firm’s collaboration spaces and meeting rooms. A new addition for the 2020 programme sees successful applicants receiving advice from venture capitalist funds and other legal tech entrepreneurs on securing funding and other practical tips for both start-ups and scale-ups.

A new addition for the 2020 programme is a specifically curated advisory panel, bringing in-depth industry and international insight to the programme. The panel includes innovation and legal tech experts from Slaughter and May’s European relationship firms De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek (Tjeerd van Ginkel, Head of Innovation) and Hengeler Mueller (Pierre G. Zickert, Manager, Legal Tech).  Also joining the panel is US firm, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP (James Desjardines, Associate Director of Practice Technology).

The Advisory panel also features input and advice from investment platforms Crowdcube (Jonathan Keeling, Head of Partnerships) and The Legal Tech Fund (Zach Posner, Managing Partner) as well as Slaughter and May’s Director of Knowledge and Innovation (Alex Woods) and Chief Information Officer (Chris Browne).

Data science

If you say you’ve had a discussion with a law firm data science team, then in the UK that can currently only really mean less than a handful of law firms, the grandfather of which is BLM. Which is why we ended up at BLM’s London office to meet with head of analytics Andrew Dunkley, business improvement director Adrian Spencer and their growing team to talk about the trials and tribulations of learning the hard way how not to form a data science team.

Product updates

VerQu, a privately held software solutions and services provider and NetDocuments ISV Technology Partner, this week announced the release of its exclusive Hive platform (Hive) for the NetDocuments native cloud solution. Hive extends the NetDocuments platform and provides unique data visualization, reporting and compliance tools.

Hive is designed for administrators to delegate tasks to service and support teams. Its integration leverages NetDocuments’ latest APIs and detailed audit logs while introducing new features and improved performance not seen in past point solutions, including visualizations, streamlined workflows and granular security for users and groups.

And last but by no means least don’t miss the comment published on Legal IT Insider this week from ThoughtRiver’s CEO Tim Pullan, who says AI is transforming the legal landscape.

Happy weekends all.