Country Focus: How English law firms are disrupting the legal market (Part 1)


Large law firms aren’t known for change. In this article we report on how English firms are adapting to the technology-driven disruption facing law.

1.  Slaughter & May and Luminance

Slaughter & May is utilising Luminance, a legal due diligence product which boldly claims to ‘increase efficiency of contract review by at least 50%’. Based on the work of Cambridge University PhDs on ‘Recursive Bayesian Estimation theory’, Luminance shuns mere keyword searching. Having collaborated for ‘several months’ with Slaughter & May, Luminance is capable of identifying and labelling documents, clauses, people, places and language. Data visualisation tools enable an entire overview of the contents of a dataroom to be analysed and can even uncover clauses and documents which deviate from the norm – allowing lawyers to quickly see the most relevant documents.

It’s no wonder Slaughter & May Senior Partner Steve Cooke has been quoted as saying that Luminance means ‘Associates will get their lives back’. Whether those lives materialise – or if just twice as much due diligence is completed – will only be known in time.

2.  Linklaters: RAVN and Verifi

Firm rivalries necessitate deployment of competing software. RAVN is Linklaters’ answer to Luminance. While RAVN might be best known in legal circles for its ‘Applied Cognitive Engine’ (RAVN ACE), an artificially intelligent document review platform to automatically read, interpret and summarise documents, RAVN has many more offerings leveraging their technology. Interestingly, RAVN has solutions for enterprise search, knowledge management and eDiscovery, while Banking & Finance lawyers may find RAVN’s ISDA CSA extract tool intriguing.

2.1  RAVN’s impact extends beyond the magic circle

Many other English firms are deploying RAVN as well. Macfarlanes, TaylorWessing and Berwin Leighton Paisner are all listed as clients of RAVN. At this stage only BLP has publicly announced how they’re using RAVN – to search Land Registry documents to extract company names and titles, insert them into a spreadsheet, for the purpose of issuing light obstruction notices. BLP have also produced an excellent video about their use RAVN.

2.2  Linklaters’ Verifi

Linklaters’ Verifi software searches 14 UK and EU registers to classify bank customers for the purpose of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013 which implemented new ring-fencing requirements for the banking sector. Verifi replaces searches previously done by junior lawyers, which took on average 12 minutes each. Linklaters can now process thousands of names overnight.

3.  Allen & Overy: MarginMatrix, LittleRedApp and Access Assist

Allen & Overy teamed up with Deloitte’s managed services team to deliver MarginMatrix, a multi-jurisdictional digital derivatives compliance system. Specifically developed to address new margining requirements for uncleared OTC derivatives, MarginMatrix has codified laws in multiple jurisdictions to automatically analyse the law and draft tailored legal documents. Allen & Overy suggests MarginMatrix does in 3 minutes what previously took a lawyer 3 hours, claiming the ‘time taken to manually handle the 10,000 contracts on average that any major bank holds can be reduced from over 15 years in lawyer hours to just 12 weeks’.

Allen & Overy has also been innovating in mobile applications, offering:

·        Little Red App: Key information and checklists on UK employment rights.

·        Access Assist: Guidance on how to respond to request for access to personal information.

4.  Simmons & Simmons: MiFID2 Manager and navigator series

Simmons & Simmons’ MiFID2 Manager online tool is a practical resource for lawyers, compliance staff and project managers to understand the impact of the EU’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, which is due to take effect from 3 January 2018. It sets out practical guidance about how the requirements apply to different firms, to particular services and different client types, together with a step by step list of action points to assist with compliance.

The innovative navigator series – a subscription information service from Simmons & Simmons – contains an extensive library of multijurisdictional legal advice. The navigator:funds series covers key issues relevant to entities looking to offer foreign funds to local investors for over 105 jurisdictions. The navigator:share disclosure series contains information about shareholder disclosure obligations, short selling restrictions and industry-specific or foreign investment restrictions for over 100 jurisdictions. The navigator:deriavtives and FX series covers 74 jurisdictions and addresses issues as to what activities can be carried out without triggering a licensing requirement, local market infrastructure for trading and clearing derivatives and how settlement systems work. There are plenty of other solutions offered too, such as the navigator:lending, navigator:banking, navigator:securities, navigator:corporate finance, nagivator:investment tax, navigator:product tax and navigator:registrations series. And all information is based on insight provided by local counsel and updated regularly.

Want more?

Keep an eye out for the second part of Country Focus: How English firms are disrupting the legal market where we feature Pinsent Masons, Bird & Bird, DLA Piper and Ashurst.

 Have you used any of the products featured in this article? What did you think?