PwC LegalTech Accelerator Reopens Via Zoom, Clarilis Joins

The Scale LegalTech accelerator created by Big Four giant PwC has opened for its second cohort, but will operate primarily via Zoom video conferencing. New cohort members include Clarilis and Prosperoware.

Doc automation company Clarilis said that the programme is being run ‘totally virtually through Zoom and breakout Zoom sessions, and that has worked well so far’. The big presentations, demo days and other events at the end of the programme ‘will be postponed until we can all meet again, whenever that will be’ they added.

The 10-week programme is designed to support ‘high potential scale-up businesses in the legal sector’ and aims to help them with a number of areas including: profile raising, identifying commercial opportunities and introductions to potential customers, industry decision makers and leading experts, the firm said.    

The 2020 programme had over 350 applicants and 100 initial assessments were conducted, with over 30 interviews to narrow it down to eight companies. So, congrats to the group who made it through the process, which in itself is something of a win.

As with the previous year, the companies are asked to contribute a fee for being part of this. One company that decided not to apply, but had contact with PwC, said the fee this year was £7,500 ($9,150). They added that they didn’t believe there would be a sufficient return to justify the cost. And, it is indeed unusual to ask companies to pay to join an accelerator, however, PwC clearly believes it is providing plenty of value.

One argument for the fee is that these are mostly not very small start-ups, but instead scale-up businesses, with several of the companies having grown rapidly in recent years, and that access to PwC input and its network justifies the cost. Clearly a large number of companies did believe it was worth it – though also, at least from market feedback – some didn’t.

Will doing most of this remotely reduce the impact? We can’t say yet. But clearly one of the main benefits of working with a multi-disciplinary giant such as PwC is the ability to network. Although Zoom can help with communication, this is perhaps one of the occasions where regular face-to-face meetings would be preferable. That said, some networking will still be possible, albeit more at a distance.

Overall, there are two main themes it seems: doc and workflow automation; and compliance and data analysis with a strong security/enforcement aspect.

This year’s scale-up companies are:

Airslate – workflow automation.

Clarilis – contract automation.

ContractZen – contract management.

Emotics – an unusual one…..does compliance and risk detection using facial recognition and micro-expression analytics.

Insiderlog – compliance platform.

Prosperoware – also a compliance platform among other things.

NewBanking – ID checking and secure permissions system.

Web-IQ – forensic analysis system, e.g. helps to explore Darknet and prevent fraud in banking sector.

Clarilis’ CEO James Quinn told Artificial Lawyer: ‘PwC Scale is the perfect programme to participate in to validate our approach as Clarilis scales its operations in the UK and overseas.  We’re really looking forward to working with the PwC team here.  There have been some great sessions so far.’

The 2nd cohort.

Last year’s programme – see article here – was the Big Four firm’s first foray into supporting legal tech scale-up and startup companies. The legal sector Scale project is just one of several industry verticals PwC runs similar programmes for.

At the same time the Slaughter and May Collaborate incubator has been delayed because of the virus lockdown.