Legal information pioneer, FromCounsel, and leading contract automation company, Clarilis, have partnered together to launch an M&A document suite that offers fully maintained, automated legal documents, together with comprehensive drafting guidance. Or, to put it more succinctly: they have combined content and automation.
One could also see this as providing a similar sort of synergy to what Thomson Reuters offers via having Contract Express and Practical Law, the legal knowledge service, on a single platform.
In fact, when one considers the beneficial synergies of combining doc automation with quality legal content you get one of those ‘why isn’t everyone doing this….?’ moments. The reality is that there are not that many independent, top level legal knowledge companies left in the market because the big legal publishers have gobbled them up. FromCounsel however remains an independent legal knowledge business.
James Quinn, CEO at Clarilis, told Artificial Lawyer: ‘Customers will have a single licence for both content and automation, and maintenance of the documents. If the law changes, [the automated documents] will be updated along with the latest version of legal guidance.’
The M&A suite will work ‘right out of the box’, but if a client wants to further customise documents from this suite then that is possible.
Quinn noted that although Clarilis has a significant team of professional support lawyers that help their clients with the automation of complex documents, the legal knowledge contained in the documents comes from the clients. What FromCounsel brings to the party is their expert knowledge provided by a team of around 40 barristers and solicitors – with several QCs among the barrister contingent.
The end result is a suite of M&A documents, all readymade for use via Clarilis’s document automation system, and backed with a highly credible group of lawyers via FromCounsel.
‘We will start with M&A, but we will be guided by the clients as to which area to look at next,’ Quinn told Artificial Lawyer.
He also mentioned that the two companies have several mutual clients and so the combination made especially good sense.
The companies want this offering to be of use not just to very large law firms, or larger inhouse legal teams, but to a broad swathe of the legal market, perhaps where mid-size law firms are not yet automating their contracts and where they may not have regular access to high quality knowledge management (KM) resources.
Quinn also noted that they are keen to expand their US law firm client base, which is growing in London, given the number of American firms that have bases in the City but that don’t have extensive doc automation and KM support for English law. They also have a base in South East Asia, in Singapore.
Andrew Thornton QC, CEO of FromCounsel, added: ‘We are really excited to partner with Clarilis to help drive greater efficiency in the legal market. We see huge potential in bringing fully maintained, high-quality automated legal documents to the broader market, including the many smaller firms that don’t currently have the same access to resources as the larger firms.’
Overall then this is a significant move that makes a lot of sense. It also raises the question of how far such a relationship can grow – the answer is probably: very far.
It also raises the question as to whether other companies will try the same approach. Of course, as noted, there are few independent businesses such as FromCounsel that have not been absorbed by the big legal publishers, and some that do remain may be tricky to work with. So, there may not be too many others that can also do this type of combo.