Startup Corner: XRef, Apperio, ROSS and Salladore
It’s been a busy month for legal tech startups, with news of major wins for legal draft supplier XRef Software Solutions; a big hire for eBilling startup Apperio; the first public commercial relationship for IBM Watson-backed ROSS intelligence; and the launch of new capacity management tech Salladore.
XRef Software Solutions’ sophisticated drafting aid has won over UK top-20 law firm Simmons & Simmons, which began rolling out XRef office-wide at the end of April after a competitive pitch process. Baker McKenzie trialled with a small number of users in December and in March confirmed they were purchasing licences for 1000 lawyers. Other recent wins include Davis Polk, and XRef also won a head-to-head evaluation at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft.
XRef’s executive director Travis Leon said “So far, we have won every single comparative evaluation at any major firm. Most clients that we haven’t won, didn’t know about us when they purchased another product!”
At eBilling startup Apperio, which this year secured £1.7m in its Series A funding round, Huddle’s former director of engineering, Stephen Wilcock has joined as its chief technology officer.
Wilcock, who at Huddle spent three years leading its engineering teams and before that was VP of engineering at OpenBet, will be working closely with founder and CEO Nicholas d’Adhemar.
“The legal sector is ripe for technology innovation and law firms across the world are waking up to the advantages of cloud-based SaaS solutions,” Wilcock said. “In the short time since Apperio’s launch, Nicholas and the team have already engaged some of the UK’s leading law firms and the business has a clear strategy for the future.”
Apperio counts Taylor Wessing and Olswang among its clients.
“To attract someone of Stephen’s caliber to Apperio in this stage of our evolution is a major coup for us. The technical and commercial expertise that Stephen brings is invaluable and hugely accelerates Apperio’s growth,” d’Adhemar said.
It was a big month for IBM-Watson backed ROSS Intelligence, which announced that it has entered into a commercial relationship with AmLaw 100 national law firm BakerHostetler.
BakerHostetler, which has used ROSS as a member of a test group almost since its inception, will license ROSS for use in its bankruptcy, restructuring and creditors rights team.
ROSS began out of research at the University of Toronto in 2014 and in June 2015, after receiving funding from Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator, relocated from Toronto to Palo Alto, California, where it has been taught bankruptcy law. The company is in the process of teaching ROSS other practice areas.
With the support of Watson’s cognitive computing and natural language processing capabilities, lawyers ask ROSS their research question in natural language. ROSS then runs through available case law and legislation, gathers evidence, draws inferences and returns evidence-based candidate answers. ROSS also monitors the law around the clock to notify users of new court decisions that can affect a case.
“At BakerHostetler, we believe that emerging technologies like cognitive computing and other forms of machine learning can help enhance the services we deliver to our clients,” said Bob Craig, chief information officer at BakerHostetler, which has 940 lawyers based in 14 offices across the U.S.
ROSS co-founder and CEO Andrew Arruda added: “BakerHostetler has been using ROSS since the first days of its deployment and we are proud to partner with a true leader in the industry as we continue to develop additional AI legal assistants.”
Elsewhere lesser-known Los Angeles-based legal tech startup Salladore in May released software that enables law firms or in-house legal teams to identify who has the availability and skills to meet a client deadline and analyse its performance.
Once lawyers have identified in real time which associates have the capacity and capability to work on a matter, they can assign the project instantly. The software also allows them to track and manage the project through completion, including communicating with other lawyers about the project.
Perhaps of most interest, built-in analytics offer information on the efficiency of projects and the productivity of the people working on them. This includes the ability to compare the performance of individual lawyers against a number of performance criteria, providing objective data for performance reviews. This might include how quickly lawyers respond to questions and get the work done, and whether documents need substantial revision.
“Salladore was developed to fill a hole I saw in the practice of law, which was efficiently finding the right junior-level attorney to work on a case,” says Adam McDonell, founder and president of Salladore, who worked most recently as a legal intern in the Northern District of Georgia and before that in the Georgia Supreme Court.