India’s first legal tech incubator, Prarambh, which is run by leading firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM), has announced that three out of the 51 applicants have been chosen to take part in its programme. All three are Indian legal tech companies.
Starting October 9, the winning startups have moved into Prarambh, housed at CAM’s Delhi office for a six month mentorship programme. The firm added that it will not be investing in any of the companies.
The three companies show a mix of approaches and applications, including one described as an AI tool with a focus on legal research:
- JRTC Intern – legal internship platform
It says of itself: ‘The reason as to the establishment of JRTC was to create a single platform wherein the students as well as the firms can have a single source of information and both the parties will not have to worry about internships.
JRTC intends to create a win-win scenario for both the students as well as firms. The students will get good internships by showcasing their skills at a national level. This will ease up the stress on students when they venture on to find a suitable internship. This will not only benefit the students but also the firms since they will get good interns without any fuss or incurring single rupee.
This initiative will have long term benefits since the students will be getting good internships on the basis of their skills. Thus India will have a better breed of lawyers, thus strengthening our legal system.’
- Leegality – eSign system using national personal ID numbers
It says of itself: ‘Leegality is a platform to eSign your documents using your Aadhaar Number. [Note: Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identity number that can be obtained voluntarily by residents of India, based on their biometric and demographic data – Wikipedia.]
Anyone having an Aadhaar number and access to the Aadhaar Registered Mobile Number/Email ID can use Leegality to eSign documents.
To eSign a document, you just need to upload the document and enter your Aadhaar Number. On entering the Aadhaar Number, you get a One Time Password (OTP) on your Aadhaar Registered Mobile Number and E-mail ID. As soon as you enter the OTP, the document is eSigned within seconds.
You can easily send invitation to others to eSign your documents by just entering their name and email ID.’
- LegalMind – legal research platform for Indian cases
Which offers: ‘Intelligent Legal Assistance, via:
Legal Search – Research made easier with our AI powered search engine which gets you similar cases from all courts and your local files.
LegalFS – Legal File System is a cloud tool for lawyers that enables the management of all the cases easily and effectively.
Brief Analyser – The Legal Analyzer lets lawyers analyze a brief within seconds and find similar cases that involved the same information.
Judgement Analysis – Generate headnotes, arguments, reasoning, cited laws, cited judgements and many more within seconds using our AI judgement analysis tool.’
In a statement about the incubator, the Indian firm, CAM, said: ‘Through Prarambh, [we] aim to augment the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, identify domestic talent and support upcoming technologies in the business and practice of law.’
It added that the purpose of Prarambh was:
- Supporting innovation in the field of legal technology
- Enabling startups with a cosharing workspace and IT infrastructure
- Ensuring the right subject matter expertise is provided to the developer
- Mentoring the startups throughout the lifecycle and guiding them to commercial success
- Nurturing and encouraging domestic talent to be a world leader in legal technology design and development
And, here’s what the firm’s Managing Partner, Cyril Shroff, has to say about things:
As explored by Artificial Lawyer this summer, incubators and accelertators play an important role in the legal tech ecosystem. See section of article below:
Once upon a time there were really only two well-known legal tech incubators in London, one was MDR LAB, the brainchild of Nick West, CSO, at Mishcon de Reya. It started in 2017 and immediately gained plaudits for developing a win-win scenario where startups and lawyers at the firm both gained insights and both parties benefited in the long run.
Created around the same time, global law firm, Allen & Overy, launched Fuse, its ‘tech innovation space’ in April 2017. Fuse also had win-win properties, but had a slightly different approach as it accepted companies that were far from being startups any longer.
Then, in quick succession this year we saw Slaughter and May and then Big Four firm, PwC, also both launch incubator/accelerator spaces. And that’s just in London.
As you cast the net wider we can see that there are also ‘legal tech growth programmes’ with LexisNexisin California, one at Duke Law School also in the US, and one created in Austria by a co-operative of leading law firms. We’ve also seen one launch in India this year.
Thomson Reuters has also been bringing in several legal tech companies to work with them, although these are more long term relationships, rather than fixed term programmes (and it makes you wonder if those won’t end with either TR buying the startup or perhaps eventually building something on their own that is ‘inspired’ by them…?) It also has a startup lab out in Switzerland, although this is not explicitly for legal tech.
What does it all mean? Why do this? Each backer has different reasons. But, generally it’s all about the old ‘win-win’ scenario. The startups want access to the target audience and data to help improve their offering, the hosts want to gain kudos from being involved in cutting edge stuff, for their staff to learn more about legal technology, and of course actually put to real use some of that tech whether inwardly facing and/or to wield it for the benefit of their clients. And depending on who they are, perhaps also to invest in a growth company.
Does this all have a massive impact on the market? No. But, Artificial Lawyer has to say it’s a very good thing these incubators exist. Although many law firms and inhouse legal teams do pilots with legal tech companies there’s something special about a really focused programme like those above.
A focused programme means high levels of involvement from the host, and hopefully a more rewarding outcome for the startup – who will often have their staff either based with the host, or visiting it very regularly.
Not every startup can get a law firm to do a long term pilot with them, nor is every firm prepared for what that entails. So, incubators really can help connect the right parties together.
People often ask: are there too many incubators? The answer is: no. They have become in a short space of time a vital component in the legal tech ecosystem. And, related to the point above, also help foster fresh talent and ideas, and assist this ‘new blood’ in coming to market. And that’s a good thing.
Maybe law firms should think about creating annual incubator-style programmes for all the tech they pilot, whether from a startup or more mature company? That way, they can focus on it in a more structured way and assign dedicated staff to managing the process for a set time each year. And these don’t all have to be for public view either. At present many firms pilot on an ad hoc basis, and that can be a bumpy ride for all involved.
All law firms tend to hire cohorts of junior lawyers at certain times of the year, why not handle pilots in the same way?’
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