The Law Boutique, a legal consultancy that specialises in providing commercial and data protection legal support, has partnered with Robin AI, to provide a new ‘AI+’ contract review and negotiation service for inhouse legal teams.
Robin AI, which often works with private equity funds, uses NLP analysis and a human element to help companies handle contract review – hence the ‘AI+’ term. The Law Boutique (TLB) will offer in addition the ability to further negotiate the contract and other services.
Robin AI is led and co-founded by its CEO, Richard Robinson, who was previously an associate at global firm, Clifford Chance, and also US firm Boies Shiller & Flexner. The company launched in March 2019 and has taken early investment from VC fund Forward Partners. The startup’s CTO, James Clough, was most recently a Research Associate in machine learning at King’s College London.
‘Our machine learning models analyse and mark-up your contracts. Our human legal experts validate the output. We call it AI+,’ is how Robin AI explains what it does.
Roisin Noonan, COO at TLB, told Artificial Lawyer: ‘Robin AI uses a playbook to do a first pass review of a contract, then they have human lawyers to check the AI’s markup. What we do is then take that into further negotiation, and further iterations of the contract for the client.’
A classic example of the type of document they might help with would be NDAs, which private equity funds generate plenty of as they explore potential investments.
Noonan added that in some cases a client may not have a playbook, so they offer creating playbooks for each type of contract as well. Playbooks show clause by clause the standard responses a company should take, as well as additional fall-back positions.
TLB sits in a market space between the law firms and the large ALSPs that are doing high volume matters. Noonan explained that you could say what they provide is ‘a legal managed service that does high value negotiations too’.
They also offer GDPR support, help triage workflows, and provide broader legal ops advice on automation and bespoke processes, all helped along with a healthy dose of legal design principles. They even help companies to design their public-facing Terms & Conditions pages. They believe TLB can therefore fill an important gap in the market.
‘Traditional law firms will always be required for support with high risk legal matters, but there is a distinct gap in the market for a service that provides day to day agile and flexible outsourced legal support,’ the company added.
TLB also set out below how the process works:
‘Initial Step: If you don’t already have playbooks, we help you create them. Otherwise, we’ll review yours and benchmark them against market standards.
Step 1: Submit your contract review requests to us via email with a brief summary of the context.
Step 2: We’ll use Robin’s AI+ technology to edit the contract according to your playbook and send it back to you with a full mark-up and recommendations.
Step 3: If further negotiation with a third party is needed, The Law Boutique’s team of legal professionals will handle them end to end – all the way through to execution.’
Is this a big deal? It’s a solid concept that provides a useful service for corporate clients that may also be aware of the service gap in the market. For example, an investment fund’s main lawyers for handling transactions may be way too expensive for this kind of day to day work, but ALSPs and smaller law firms may also not be cut out to perform these tasks either.
ALSPs may want way more volume and not be able to do the negotiation part. While smaller firms may be economical, but may be slow without the added automation that Robin AI provides.
The combo of TLB and Robin AI’s ‘AI-plus’ model, fills that gap in what could prove to be an efficient and repeatable way that is a better allocation of legal spend for companies. Of course, to make all of this work, you need GCs that want to embrace such an approach, rather than handing over the work to their usual advisers, or keeping it all inhouse.
However, there are a growing number of GCs who do want to explore delivering legal services to their internal client in new and more efficient ways, and this combo may have appeared at a good time for cost-conscious inhouse legal teams impacted by the lockdown.
It will be interesting to see how it goes. Plus a big welcome to Robin AI – great to have another participant in the legal AI market, or should we say the ‘Legal AI+’ market…!