Global law firm, Clifford Chance, has launched a suite of automated documents called VIMA Solutions to help startups with their legal needs. The project has been led out of its Singapore office’s Create+65 innovation lab and is aimed at supporting the startup community locally.
The initial set of documents will cover areas (see below) such as NDAs, term sheets for investment, and shareholder agreements. Users can generate the documents for free, using a chat bot or questionnaire to input the key information.
The solutions are based on the industry standard Venture Capital Investment Model Agreements (VIMA) suite launched by the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) and the Singapore Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SVCA). Clifford Chance was part of the Working Group which developed and introduced VIMA, which is based on Singapore law.
I.e. we could see this as a nod toward standardisation of basic legal documents. The firm also noted that these documents could be used by people who are not lawyers. It’s also something of a ‘freemium’ model.
The move comes just a few days after the firm announced from London that the product development side of its loss-making Applied Solutions legal tech software business was being folded back into the main firm. Although, in that case the group was, in part, set up to generate revenue from software sales.
Kai Schneider, Singapore Managing Partner, Clifford Chance, said: ‘The launch of Intelligent VIMA Solutions is a great example of how our Create+65 innovation lab has harnessed the power of legal tech to transform the delivery of legal services.
‘It is our hope that wider adoption of VIMA, now made easier through user-centric chatbots and auto-fill questionnaires, will help further reinforce Singapore’s position as a leading start-up hub in South East Asia, and encourage the development of legal technology and innovation.’
And Shanice Choo, Legal Innovation Advisor, at Clifford Chance Create+65, added: ‘By adopting a co-design approach with our Create+65 start-up community, we were able to empathise with and understand how to make those documents more accessible to first-time entrepreneurs and investors. The result? Automated document solutions designed with the end-user in mind.’
Is this a big deal? It shows that despite the departure of Jeroen Plink from Applied Solutions and some major organisational changes there, in Singapore things are motoring along inside the Create+65 group at Clifford Chance. It also clears up any doubts that the firm might be losing enthusiasm for tech development that is client-facing.
Another important factor however, is that these products are free. And, using a simple bot system (see below) makes them easy to use for anyone. It’s all a very smart move, as these basic documents are not where Clifford Chance really generates revenue in any case, but it creates goodwill for the firm, and no doubt those early stage companies will one day come back to the firm looking for more complex advice. So, a win/win.