Deloitte Buys AI Group That Got CLM LinkSquares Going – Updated

Deloitte has acquired SFL Scientific, a leading AI strategy and data science consulting firm. The move is especially interesting as SFL helped NLP-driven CLM company LinkSquares to get to grips with machine learning, although the contract management company told Artificial Lawyer this evening that in the end they decided to bring AI development inhouse in 2019 and that ‘no aspect of SFL’s technology remains anywhere in our platform today’.

In a fascinating blog post for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Michael Luk, chief technology officer at SFL Scientific, wrote: ‘LinkSquares built its initial prototype using SQL running on AWS, but it wasn’t using any machine learning technology.

‘We learned about the team’s vision to process terms and language automatically and understood the business pain points. We proposed building a custom machine learning solution to help the team scale and improve accuracy.’

The AWS blog post (see here) then explained that: ‘One month after its initial engagement, data scientists at SFL conducted a proof of concept showing the LinkSquares team how they could deploy a scalable, automated analysis solution using machine learning on AWS.

‘SFL Scientific used natural language processing (NLP), an artificial intelligence method helping computers understand and interpret human language, to build its machine learning algorithm. Implementing the algorithm enabled LinkSquares’ software to extract key terms from a document and tokenize these terms into pre-defined categories. Upon deployment on AWS, the algorithm ran the code on demand. Whenever a document was uploaded, the machine learning code automatically launched.’

In short, without SFL’s input then LinkSquares’ NLP journey may have been somewhat different, although as the company noted they eventually chose to go their own way in terms of AI development.

What does all of this mean? Although Deloitte has not specified which domains it wants to use SFL’s capabilities for, it shows that the group’s skills can be used in the legal field.

If this group’s AI skills were to be used in the legal domain by Deloitte, what would they use it for? The most likely area is to help on large-scale CLM advisory projects where Deloitte works with third party vendors. E.g. Deloitte, plus the SFL team, do legal ops and NLP/contract data consulting, while an external third party, whether a large CLM or another developer of contract management tools, provides the software framework.

That said, although Deloitte – and all of the Big Four – can be very good at cross-selling and bringing a multi-disciplinary approach to clients (especially for the very largest clients with major consulting needs) there’s no guarantee that this will happen in this case. For now it’s just a possibility – but a tantalising one.

For its part, Deloitte said: ‘Combining SFL Scientific’s deep science and analytics knowledge with Deloitte’s breadth of AI capabilities and industry depth and experience further positions Deloitte as an AI leader, advances its ability to deliver AI-fuelled transformations for clients, and accelerates the growth of its US AI market share.’

While Dan Helfrich, chairman and CEO, Deloitte Consulting, stated: ‘As our clients advance their enterprise AI journeys, they require the comprehensive and sophisticated experience that SFL Scientific delivers.

‘The acquisition builds on an already strong relationship between our two organisations serving both commercial and public sector clients. Additionally, it will help us advise clients with the best approach to how AI can help transform their business, implement scalable capabilities to drive that transformation, and provide ongoing support to continually improve investments with AI-infused tech.’

While, Michael Segala, CEO at SFL, concluded: ‘Combining our high calibre AI talent with Deloitte’s broad domain knowledge and implementation capabilities is the catalyst to accelerate solving scientific and operational challenges with AI.’

In addition, a spokesperson for LinkSquares commented: ‘LinkSquares engaged with SFL Scientific for a limited-scope prototype in 2019. Ultimately, LinkSquares determined that SFL’s prototype was not the foundation we needed ….. The company brought all AI development inhouse in 2019, and no aspect of SFL’s technology remains anywhere in our platform today.’