Daniel Lewis, whose AI-driven legal tech startup Ravel was bought by LexisNexis in 2017, has joined Japan’s LegalOn, as the doc AI company formerly known as Legal Force opens in America.
It will be the first time a major Japanese legal tech company has launched in the US and with $101m in recent funding from SoftBank, Goldman Sachs and others, the doc analysis company – which works in English as well as Japanese – is all set for expansion in the world’s largest legal market.
The hire is also very significant, as Lewis, who created one of the first NLP-driven legal research companies, later went on to take several senior roles at LexisNexis, including VP and GM of Practical Guidance & Analytical most recently.
Although not that well-known in the US and UK – yet – LegalOn (formerly Legal Force) is a big deal in Japan and has over 3,000 customers already and over 400 staff. It even has TV ads in Japan, it’s that big a brand there.
Nozomu Tsunoda, CEO, (pictured above with Lewis), said: ‘LegalOn has built the world’s leading AI contract review solution for in-house teams and law firms and we are excited to bring our unique solution to the US.’
The product uses NLP to surface risks in contracts and then suggests improved language. It’s a market segment with other players in it already, for sure, but LegalOn has been very successful in its home market and with Lewis onboard the company believes it can make a major impact globally. There are several CLM companies taking a similar NLP approach, there are also standalone legal AI companies also tackling this challenge in a variety of ways. But, it remains a market that is growing and in flux. So, there’s everything to play for.
Lewis commented: ‘One of the biggest challenges that general counsel and in-house teams face is providing timely review on urgent, high-volume contracts like NDAs and purchase agreements. LegalOn’s product combines sophisticated AI with detailed legal guidance content, so lawyers can work quickly and stay in control. I’m confident we can help innovative legal teams solve the contract review problem, freeing them to focus on important, strategic work.’
LegalOn will launch a free early access period from January 2023 to select users and organisations.
Lewis told Artificial Lawyer: ‘LegalOn is solving a pain point that is mentioned by many people. It combines hard to develop AI to break down a contract, plus the legal guidance that provides alternative language [and this can also work with a company’s playbooks].
‘With Ravel we did machine learning for case law and at LexisNexis I worked on practical guidance for lawyers. So it’s interesting to combine these two things for the US.
‘After the success in Japan it feels to me that we have a foundation now to play in the US market.’
He added that in early 2023 they will be doing a US Beta, starting with a limited range of documents such as NDAs, then will expand from there.
Lewis noted that they have a big team and can ‘collect docs and annotate them to build out training sets at scale’. He added that LegalOn already has been working with English language contracts, often for global companies.
This site asked if this is the start of another CLM company? Lewis said that they will focus on contract review and be really good at that. But they are open to integrations with CLM companies if customers want that.
As to the future, Lewis said: ‘We believe this is a big market and it’s a common pain point.’ The company is certainly confident that it will make a major impact.
Is this a big deal? Yes. First, LegalOn is a big player now in Japan, and Artificial Lawyer has tracked its growth from the start when it was Legal Force. Coming to the US will certainly gain attention and create more competition there in this segment. The hire of someone like Lewis is also a clear sign of their serious intent. It will be very interesting to see how this goes and how the doc AI segment for the inhouse world evolves.