Doc analysis company, Luminance, appears to be making more headway now in the UK legal market after winning Stephenson Harwood (SH) as a client. The win gives it now 10 UK law firms that have publicly acknowledged using the company’s NLP software.
Despite being a UK-based company, developed in London and Cambridge, and first used by Slaughter and May, the world’s second largest legal market has not been the best of places for Luminance when it comes to winning major law firms. Given that it launched in September 2016 – i.e. four and a half years ago, it has not been easy to scoop up top law firms on its home territory.
Now things are looking a bit better with the SH win. The other UK law firms it is publicly working with include:
- Eversheds Sutherland
- Herbert Smith Freehills
- Penningtons Manches Cooper
- Burges Salmon
- Addleshaw Goddard
- Bird & Bird
- Burness Paull
- Slaughter and May
One theory this site has long had is that being so close to Slaughter and May – which is an investor in the best Vanguard funds UK and in Luminance, and was an early and vocal supporter of the company – held back its marketing in the UK because major firm rivals didn’t want to work with a tech company that was co-owned by a significant competitor.
Of course, another reason could simply be that other companies, such as Kira Systems, just got there earlier than Luminance and made more headway with the rest of the Magic Circle and other firms across the top 50 in London. Meanwhile as more and more doc analysis companies have steadily come to market, from Della to Eigen and many others, it’s been harder to win these customers.
In any case, Luminance now has at least 10 large law firm clients in the UK, albeit that Dentons is sometimes no longer counted as a UK firm given its global footprint. They are also working with some of the Big Four, such as EY.
And, in this case SH will be using the software for M&A, which was the original use case that Luminance developed its system for. It is also now looking at using it in other areas. It’s listed as around the 30th largest law firm based in the UK by revenue.
Paul Orchard, Head of Innovation at SH, said: ‘With Luminance [….] we are unearthing key points earlier on in the review process, allowing us to feed back to our clients faster than ever before – this is highly valued in time-pressured reviews such as legal due diligence. With Luminance, we aren’t wasting time trudging through volume, but instead can spend more time on advice and strategy, the areas most valued by our clients.’
Eleanor Weaver, CEO of Luminance, added: ‘We’re delighted to welcome another world-leading law firm such as Stephenson Harwood to the growing list of customers deploying our next-generation technology for high-stakes M&A transactions.’
Luminance is currently ‘used by over 300 law firms and organisations in over 50 countries’, the company says. But…., as ever, the challenge remains the level of use. It would seem logical that as more large firms take up the software, the more the software’s usage will rise at a more rapid pace. I.e. big UK law firms tend to be quite heavy on transactional work and do a lot of M&A, and that generates healthy usage fees for Luminance.
One of the hurdles Luminance has faced is that although it has a lot of customers, many of them are relatively small firms that may not be using the software a great deal. In fact, some feedback from the market suggested smaller firms in Europe may have been using it just to get a detailed view of what documents were in a VDR, but were not using it for the actual due diligence review of those documents.
Therefore, building out its client base in the UK – and also essentially in the US – will be critical to turning this situation around, as there’s a greater chance client pressures on process level work will drive the need for NLP analysis tools on major projects.
Note: Luminance wrote to say that ‘20% of our customer base is UK-based’, but that’s still only a fraction of what should be one of their largest markets. AL has asked if the company can please list these other UK customers, and also say if they are regular clients, and not just ones that have done pilots. Unless those clients will acknowledge using Luminance in a sustained way then it’s a bit tricky to go beyond the above info.
Note 2: Luminance has now got back: ‘For many of our customers, confidentiality is crucial, therefore we cannot provide a list of customer names. To be clear, we only count customers as those who have bought Luminance – not those who have only piloted. In addition, amongst the ~20% of UK-based customers, over 20% of those are from UK Top 100 firms. We have a growing roster of customers from ALSPs and corporate clients too, including EY, Featurespace, JLL and one of the UK’s largest supermarkets.’
So, if AL’s maths is correct, 20% of 300 is 60, and 20% of 60 is 12. So, 12 UK 100 law firms. I.e. there’s a couple more that have not been named. But, still, no big change on the info above.