Allen & Overy incubator expands as firm sees ‘cultural shift’ toward legal tech

Allen & Overy unveiled the next few startups to join its Fuse innovation center and announced on Monday the addition of nearly a dozen legal and financial technology companies to the incubator.

Fuse’s new cohort, the fifth since its launch in 2017, includes five legal technology companies: Melbourne-based document review company Atticus, Toronto-based legal research platform CiteRight, New York-based contractor Draftwise, Luxembourg-based ESG and sustainability compliance firm Greenomy and London-based platform for data annotations and model training AI-based human loop platform.

These companies join Fuse alums who have also participated in previous cohorts of the UK-based company, including Avvoka, Define, Legatics and StructureFlow.

Shruti Ajitsaria, head of Fuse, said the company had seen the highest number of applicants for the current round with 150 companies around the world keen to participate.

Working with corporate clients, Allen & Overy also selected financial technology companies to participate in Fuse for a second year. The group’s new fintech companies include Amplifi, Arteria, Elliptic, Liquidly, Solidatus and Vault Platform. The program, which will start virtually for the second time in a row, will run until the end of 2021.

The stated goal of the innovation center of the nearly 3,000-strong law firm is to create a space in which A&O lawyers, clients and companies of the cohort can work together and test solutions that may look different for each company.

According to Ajitsaria, tech companies compete for the opportunity for a variety of reasons, including product development, customer introduction, and being part of a community – and the company tailors the program for each participant. Companies will have access to A & O’s attorneys and documents, product development and feedback, as well as the opportunity to work with the firm on client projects, she said.

For lawyers in the firm, Fuse offers the opportunity to learn about new technologies and use products that help in their work.

“From my point of view, Fuse is a win-win situation in terms of knowledge transfer,” said Ajitsaria.

The hub is open to all lawyers to learn more about the resident companies, introduce them to clients, and see if the lawyers would like to try a product in their own work, Ajitsaria said, adding, “I think this has to be one Art led A small cultural shift in this legal technology is really seen as something for the masses. “It has also resulted in lawyers in the firm making regular use of legal technology products, she said.

Law firms have rushed in recent years to use innovation at least as a goal and at least in large part in response to customer demand. This has taken various forms, with some companies setting up in-house technology laboratories and incubators such as Allen & Overy’s. Many have hired chief innovation officers and formed new in-house teams, while some firms have established technology-driven legal services subsidiaries, collaborated with technology companies on new products, or poured capital into legal technology companies.

For a number of legal technology firms, Fuse has built lasting relationships with Allen & Overy, with several being involved in multiple cohorts and leading to the introduction of new technology into the firm.

A & O’s banking practice took over the transaction management platform Legatics in 2018. This year, the company also announced that it has licensed the technology from the Avvoka documentation automation platform. Last summer, the company licensed the technology from the design and review firm Define.

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