Law Firm MinterEllison Launches JV to Build Legal AI Company

The New Zealand branch of leading Asia-Pacific law firm MinterEllison, known as MinterEllisonRuddWatts, has launched a joint venture with tech investment platform Goat Ventures to develop a new legal AI company.

The JV will provide NZ$2m as co-investment to develop a completely new legal AI business. The firm said it wanted to focus on AI because legal services are well suited to this technology.

The MinterEllison project in New Zealand is different in that it is specifically looking at building a legal AI application, most other law firms that have invested in or supported new legal tech have had a more general outlook. Also, this JV is focused on creating just one standalone legal AI business and is not seeking to support start-ups in general or seeking to be an incubator or accelerator to other legal tech businesses.

The move follows several other initiatives of law firms around the world to support new legal tech, most recently with UK firm, Mishcon de Reya launching its own incubator for legal tech entrepreneurs in London. Meanwhile, another UK firm, Pinsent Masons, developed its own legal AI document analysis system, though this was done wholly through internal resources, rather than seeking a JV with an external adviser/investor.

Auckland-based MinterEllisonRuddWatts CEO and JV Board Chair, Mike Schubert said: ‘Businesses are looking for new ways to meet their legal obligations efficiently. We believe it’s time to introduce new technology into the legal services market to meet this need. We are delighted to partner with Goat Ventures and are excited at the prospect of combining our legal knowledge and approach with a team who know how to get the best from evolving technologies.’

Schubert added: ‘Access to Goat’s expertise through the JV will allow us to build on our understanding of AI and look more closely at how we can use it to benefit our clients.’

Shaveer Mirpuri, CEO of Goat Ventures, who also sits on the JV’s board, said: ‘Combining the legal expertise of MinterEllisonRuddWatts with our AI team and wider capabilities, gives us one of New Zealand’s most exciting start-ups. Our plan is to create a credible and global AI business you would be hard pressed to find in Silicon Valley.’

Goat Ventures was founded by angel investors and exited technology entrepreneurs in New Zealand. Major stakeholders include Dr Ray Thomson, VMG Ventures, and K1W1.