Three international law firms, CMS, Cooley and Rajah & Tann Asia, working with input from an advisory board of 16 leading in-house lawyers from large companies, have launched Lupl, a massive collaboration platform for legal work that uses ‘matter synchronization software to bring together all of the people, conversations, documents and data for legal matters in one place’ – as the group puts it.
Over $10m has been invested in the platform so far, it is understood. There are around 50 tech developers also involved in the project, which is now in beta.
Legal tech companies that have already started to work with the platform include iManage and NetDocuments in relation to their DMS capabilities, and LexisNexis with regard to legal knowledge sharing. The platform will also connect with Teams and Slack. And, these are early days with many more participants to get onboard.
Together, the group represents 10,000+ lawyers in 100+ jurisdictions. It will operate as an independent corporation.
This has the goal of: ‘Synchronizing everything that goes into a legal matter – including people, documents, information, communications and technology applications – in a single secure space, empowering lawyers and legal departments to work together on complex, high-stakes legal matters in a better and more efficient way.’
An open approach means any legal department and law firm will be able to use Lupl, and any technology provider will be able to integrate with it via open APIs.
Speaking to Artificial Lawyer, Matt Pollins, Chief Commercial Officer of Lupl, who is also a partner at CMS, said: ‘This started after conversations 18 months ago between the three firms who are funding this. The challenge for lawyers now is that the market is flooded with technology that doesn’t integrate.’
He explained that Lupl acts as a neutral platform into which any firm or inhouse team can connect with whatever systems they currently use. From Artificial Lawyer’s point of view, you could think of it as a type of ‘universal adapter’ for legal tech and data.
‘We felt that the only way to do this was to come together as an alliance,’ he added.
Pollins noted that this was not like Reynen Court, which is more of a procurement and security guarantee platform for software. Lupl he underlined was all about collaboration and removing friction from how firms work together now.
Designed for usage by both law firms and legal departments alike, the platform will continue to operate in private beta for several months ahead of a wider public release later in the year or early 2021. In support of the beta version going live, the company has also launched a website to set out its long-term vision and objectives.
The wider law firm testing group includes Slaughter and May, Corrs Chambers Westgarth in Australia, Khaitan & Co in India and One Essex Court, a leading barristers’ chambers in London.
Duncan Weston, Executive Partner of CMS, commented: ‘At CMS, we’ve always felt that true change in the industry requires a collective shift in mindset to eliminate proprietary closed systems and a reluctance to work together. By supporting the development of Lupl, we hope to set an example for how to bring together a diverse ecosystem of innovators, in-house and private practice lawyers as well as other professionals to create transformational change in our industry for the decades to come.’
Pollins added: ‘When we began work on Lupl, our goal was to give lawyers real-time, 360 visibility across their matters, whether they’re at their desk, at home, or on the go. We knew the demand for a tool like this was coming because of the shift towards distributed teams and mobile working but the crisis has accelerated that shift far quicker than we could ever have imagined.’
Lupl also has been developed with further support and guidance from Heidi Gardner PhD, Faculty Chair and Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School, the author of ‘Smart Collaboration’.
Is this a big deal? Yes, it’s very significant and it addresses some key challenges in the legal market that are only getting worse with the proliferation of tech tools on a global basis.
While it is clearly not like Reynen Court, which was also funded by a group of law firms, it is however another example of law firms coming together to solve problems individual tech companies have been unable to.
It will be fascinated to see how this develops.