NLP Group, Ayfie, Targets Legal Sector; Bags Norway’s Largest Law Firm

Ayfie, the global data analysis and NLP group, is to increasingly target the legal market, and has bagged Norway’s largest law firm, BAHR, as a sign of what is to come.

Ayfie works across many sectors, such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals, financial services and construction. While it is not a total stranger to legal, having linked with eDiscovery platforms such as Relativity and One Discovery in the past, it is now making a strategic play to target the wider legal market to provide unstructured data/doc analytics across all practice areas and across a range of law firms.

So far, the group which is based in Oslo, Norway, but operates globally, has gained five law firm clients including a leading UK firm. The public announcement of the BAHR win is in effect a declaration of intent.

BAHR already works with legal AI company Luminance for the transactional review of documents. How the two tech platforms mesh together inside the firm will be interesting to see.

But, what is Ayfie planning on doing at BAHR?

To start with the group, which formed in 2018 following the legacy ayfie company merger with VirtualWorks, a leading knowledge discovery and data search business, is working with BAHR to ‘automatically classify [their documents] for efficient recall’ so that lawyers there can ‘easily search for internal competencies, clauses, terms and documents’.

Morten P. Smørdal, Managing Partner at BAHR, said: ‘Using … techniques in the artificial intelligence segment including linguistics and machine learning, Ayfie will be used to recognise and identify relevant relationships between documents, contracts and legal sources, and optimise internal searches and analysis to save time and improve deliveries to our clients.’

Rob Wescott, CRO at Ayfie, added that ‘we have developed a solution which is tailored to BAHR and the needs of the legal sector. Testing during the course of the project has proved once again that search, based on our technology’s insights, can provide real value to end users.’

While the transactionally focused legal AI companies are not going to be directly in competition with a broader legal enterprise search capability, the reality is that once both lawyers and Ayfie get working on the extraction of clause-level data, the move into more event-driven work, such as M&A due diligence, is not then a huge leap.

For example, legal AI pioneer, RAVN – prior to its merger with iManage – focused on areas such as search. It then saw the opportunity to create more transactional capabilities for its law firm clients. And, it does seem that this is where Ayfie is headed already.

Is there room for another legal AI/analytics player in the doc review/data analysis/extraction space? Undoubtedly there is.

Although many of the major names, such as Kira Systems on the law firm side, for example, and Seal Software on the corporate side, have had a very significant market impact, the total global legal market for this technology is huge. Even the largest commercial firms and Fortune 500 businesses are only just ‘dipping their toes’ into the AI swimming pool.

Much will depend on matters such as usability, UI/UX, APIs and integration capability with other platforms, price, customer service, and in short all the commercial aspects one would expect from a software provider that is being integrated into a law firm’s workflow.

For more info about what Ayfie is doing, check out this video from 2017, which gives a good overview.