News Wrap: Freshfields, Simmons + MDR LAB

There’s always more things happening than you can shake a legal tech stick at, so here’s a news wrap to bring a few key items together in one place.

Freshfields Brings In Team From Closed Legal AI Company RFRNZ

Global law firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, has hired a team of machine learning experts who were previously at the German legal AI company, RFRNZ, which recently closed down – (see story).

Adriaan Schakel, Moritz Biersack, Fillipe Galiza and Ramesh Kumar have joined the firm’s Global Technology & Innovation team, and are located in the Berlin and Munich offices.

The firm said that all of the new hires are proven specialists in machine learning and were previously co-founders or management at legal tech pioneer, RFRNZ.

At Freshfields they will ‘contribute their unique knowledge and experience in developing innovative solutions as part of the firm’s wider digital transformation’ the firm said.

Gerrit Beckhaus, Counsel and Co-Head of Freshfields Lab, told Artificial Lawyer: ‘Extending our capabilities with the new team is part of our wider digital transformation journey and a natural development of pushing forward in this space.’

Good to see part of the RFRNZ team finding their way to a new home. And it’s also positive news to see Freshfields boosting its capabilities in the ML field.

Simmons & Simmons Joins PartnerVine Marketplace

Simmons & Simmons has launched on PartnerVine, the legal tech marketplace. The first product that will be on offer from Simmons is its SMCR Academy solution.

Simmons joins a steadily growing list of firms that are placing their home-made products on PartnerVine. Clifford Chance’s Applied Solutions team has also put its products on the marketplace.

The SMCR tool is an e-learning solution that helps asset management firms meet their training requirements for the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Senior Managers & Certification Regime (SMCR).

Lee Curtis, Head of Sales at Simmons, said: ‘Our products will be a good fit for the platform’s passionate community of users. Given the impending FCA deadline requires solo-regulated firms to have trained all conduct staff by 31 March, we believe that this solution is of clear value to the asset management industry.’

Jordan Urstadt, CEO of PartnerVine, added: ‘Simmons is one of the major reasons we started PartnerVine. They’ve been delivering extraordinary value with software since they launched their first product in 2007, and their products are global leaders.

‘The best software solutions take years of investment and iteration, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with a firm that takes its long-term commitment to quality legal services delivered with software as seriously as we do.’

PartnerVine started off with more of a focus on helping law firms and Big Four firms, such as PwC, to sell template contracts. However, this more recent approach to help sell tech-based solutions built by law firms is gaining traction.

It’s also another example of a legal tech marketplace, of which there are now a growing number.

Some of the other products currently on sale include:

  • Cross-Border Publisher: Data Protection from Clifford Chance Applied Solutions delivers information on 78 key data protection questions in 18 jurisdictions, including California, the UK, Germany, France and 14 other jurisdictions in the EU.
  • Cross-Border Publisher: Banking Confidentiality from Clifford Chance Applied Solutions delivers information on banking confidentiality requirements in 17 jurisdictions in Europe. With both the data protection and banking confidentiality products, banks can cover their key data protection requirements in one place across multiple jurisdictions.
  • Automated documents. PwC Switzerland and Meyerlustenberger Lachenal (MLL) are selling automated documents under Swiss law. If you need to document a broad range of scenarios, including loans, transfers of assets, IP, employment or mergers, automated documents take you through a guided questionnaire to produce a first draft of your agreement.

MDR LAB Welcomes Six Entrepreneurs to its New Launch Programme

The incubator of Mishcon de Reya, MDR LAB, has brought in six people with startup ideas as part of the group’s Launch support programme.

Following the incubator’s revamp in 2020, MDR LAB now has several streams for startups and people with ideas that they’d like to develop.

In this case, Launch is a six-month project that helps individuals build new ventures in, or adjacent to, the legal industry.

They are:

Cristian Gherhes: Cristian is a social scientist with a specific interest in Artificial Intelligence and its impact on next generation professional services. Cristian is looking to mitigate the litigation risk that companies are exposed to through email exchanges.

Jasmine Gavigan: Jasmine has a decade of experience automating processes at law firms as well as e-commerce, where she has worked as a ‘Guru’ at Shopify. Jasmine is looking to use this experience to help law firms re-imagine how their lawyers and legal staff operate and to take on the billable hour.

Co-founders Jeremy Bormann and Chris Thittayil: Jeremy studied Law in the UK and Germany and Chris studied MA, Business and Management in the UK. Both have recently completed an Entrepreneurship programme at CERN. Jeremy and Chris are passionate about optimising pre-trial litigation strategies and preparation.

Mohamed Aboshanab: Mohamed is an international lawyer and serial entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in the immigration and mobility space. Mohamed is looking to build a next generation travel company and transform the way that travellers apply for and obtain visas around the world.

Sonia Hadjadj: Sonia is a qualified Lawyer with international experience who held positions at both Big Law and in-house at FTSE100 companies and a high growth SaaS startup. Sonia is passionate about the intersection of law, technology and futurism and wants to help legal departments make faster data driven decisions and unlock further value for the business.’

Launch is run in collaboration with Founders Factory, and participants of the programme will follow ‘an immersive learning experience to access the tools, frameworks and support needed to build a backable business’.

Founders that make it through the mid-way investment committee stage will receive an initial investment from Mishcon de Reya to support product development and they can also access a further £100,000 ($137,000) of pre-seed funding to help them go to market, the firm said.

Good luck to the first intake of entrepreneurs! It will be very interesting to see what comes out of this.