S+M Collaborate Incubator Cohort Revealed + AI Is Central

Leading law firm Slaughter and May has announced the latest cohort members of its Collaborate incubator programme. The cohort includes among others: LegalFly ‘a GenAI assistant for legal teams’; Notarist which ‘uses AI to analyse emails and meeting notes, categorising tasks and tracking task progress’; and Atria AI which also offers a GenAI assistant, but this time focused on tasks such as ‘chronology building, impact assessment and regulatory monitoring.’ (You can see the full cohort list below).

In fact, for this fourth cohort, the firm sought especially to bring in those companies exploring generative AI – and every company picked has some element of AI within it to a greater or lesser extent. This fourth cohort has also resulted in the highest number of applications to date, the firm told Artificial Lawyer, which has got to be a good sign and signals a healthy legal tech startup environment.

(P.S. On the point about startups, it’s not quite the wild years of 2015/2016 yet, but there are definitely more new legal tech companies getting started now than there have been for a while – and that is very welcome. It’s also something happening despite generally lower levels of VC activity than in the recent past. So, perhaps this New New Wave of legal tech co/s will help stimulate more investment as well…?)

Collaborate was launched in 2019 and enables cohort members to test and develop their tools with Slaughter and May’s lawyers and business service professionals, as well as with the firm’s Client Innovation Network, made up of over 70 client organisations. Partners at Slaughter and May can also invest in cohort members if they wish to, via the firm’s Ventures structure.

As part of a refreshed programme offering for 2024, Collaborate will provide a series of new advice-based sessions covering topics such as ‘Architecture of a Law Firm’ and ‘Knowing your Audience’ to support their growth and business success.

This year, Slaughter and May will also work with the Legal Tech Collective – a legal tech consultancy and a new member of the Collaborate Advisory Network – who will also be offering each cohort member a workshop on topics tailored to the individual company.

And here are the six new cohort members:

AssocioAssocio is a collaborative analysis and forecasting tool which harnesses AI to assist lawyers to evaluate arguments, predict outcomes and verify statements more efficiently and reliably.
Atria AIAtria AI offers a generative AI assistant with modules tailored for specific legal tasks such as chronology building, impact assessment, report generation, data extraction and regulatory monitoring.
LegalFlyLegalFly is a generative AI assistant for legal teams, used to streamline tasks like contract review, drafting, and discovery. By creating a customised AI model, LegalFly is able to reflect each firm’s unique style.
NotaristNotarist uses AI to analyse emails and meeting notes, categorising tasks and tracking task progress. The AI interprets and prioritises follow-up tasks, locates bottlenecks and deadlines, and ensures seamless task and project management.
Visual ContractsVisual Contracts’ ‘Canva for Contracts’ is an AI-driven platform that helps business and legal professionals to create understandable contracts, using AI suggestions on visual elements, plain legal language and effective document structure to make legally sound and user-friendly contracts.
Virtual Pricing DirectorVirtual Pricing Director is a pricing and profitability tool that helps create pricing proposals and engagement letters, using templates, AI and structured logic. 

Sally Wokes, Innovation Partner at Slaughter and May, said: ‘The programme has helped us to engage with some of the brightest minds in the legal tech space, and this year is no exception. We are really excited to engage with startups incorporating generative AI, and see what innovative technologies they have to offer.’

Billie Heer, Client and Practice Solutions Manager and Collaborate Programme Lead, added: ‘We are really proud that Collaborate has evolved over the years to align not only with changes within our business, but also that of our clients’ and the fast-paced changes in the legal tech industry generally. Collaborate enables our cohort to have access to our business services staff and our lawyers, as well as our Client and Advisory Networks, and we are excited to be getting everyone involved again.’

While, Kiah Bradley, Client and Practice Solutions Executive, concluded: ‘Anticipation and eagerness for this year’s cohort is particularly high as all of the tools in the cohort incorporate generative AI. We are looking forward to testing and feeding back on our cohort’s platforms with the aim of uncovering even more use cases and potential in each tool.’

Overall, this is another great initiative. AL has long supported law firm incubators for the simple reason that they are a win-win. Law firms get to really explore new technology in a focused way and give feedback to early stage companies that will really benefit from this, while the companies don’t just get feedback, they have a chance to understand how a major law firm works and what its, and its clients’, needs are. Such programmes also can help the tech companies to win new customers, potentially gain investment, and allows them to spend time with other startups going through very similar challenges and opportunities.

That there is a strong GenAI aspect here also makes total sense. As explored in the AL think piece this week (‘GenAI Has Split the Legal Information Atom – Now What?’), this technology in particular is going to be a huge opportunity for the legal sector. Leading firms will want to be on top of what’s happening, and so having a group of innovative companies within your business is a great way to learn more.

Collaborate 2024 will be led by the firm’s central Client and Practice Solution team; Jane Stewart (Head of Legal Operations), Billie Heer (Client and Practice Solutions Manager and Programme Lead) and Kiah Bradley (Client and Practice Solutions Executive and Programme Support), with support from Sally Wokes and the wider Legal Operations Partner Group.

Legal Innovators California Conference – June 4/5 – San Francisco

Talking of legal tech startups and innovation, the Legal Innovators California conference takes place in San Francisco on June 4/5. We will be hosting special sessions dedicated to startups and will also have leading figures from the VC and investor world in attendance.

Day One is focused on law firms and Day Two on inhouse and legal ops. We will have many great speakers – from pioneering legal tech companies to top service providers. You can see some of our speakers here.

If you’d like to know more and get tickets, then please see here: Legal Innovators California