Allen & Overy is to nurture lawtech start-ups with the creation of an incubator called Fuse where 'lawyers, technologists and their clients will collaborate to explore, develop and test legal, regulatory and deal-related solutions'. Applications will be accepted in the coming weeks from early-stage and more mature tech companies to work in a specially designed area for 60 individuals housed within Allen & Overy’s offices. The firm said: ‘Once in residence, companies will have access to the expertise of Allen & Overy lawyers, technologists and clients to co-create practical solutions to some of the challenges faced by companies, financial institutions and law firms today.’
Wim Dejonghe, Allen & Overy’s senior partner, said: 'Developments in tech are rapidly transforming our industry and we are determined to play a lead role in harnessing the power of new solutions for the benefit of our clients...Fuse offers us a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with both our clients and some of the brightest minds in the tech sector, particularly those who have synergies with our business. I’m convinced this will not only put us at the forefront of developments in this field but will also be a key differentiator for Allen & Overy in the years to come.'
Record number of start ups receiving funding
The announcement comes in the wake of a new report, which revealed that a record number of start-ups targeting the legal market received funding around the world last year. While the number of deals was up, however, the actual amounts of money invested fell dramatically – in part to the fact that investors are getting in early with more than half of the investment was at the initial seed/angel funding stage. There were 67 investment deals in 2016, up from 60 the year before, although the actual amount invested plummeted by 46 per cent to £125m, according to figures published by CB Insights, a tech market intelligence platform,
The report said notable deals in 2016 included an $18.6m series C financing to CS Disco, a US-based e-disclosure company, a $22m private equity round to another US company, File & ServeXpress, which aims to simplify litigation workflow, and Wusong Technology, an online legal services platform based in Beijing, raising both a $4m series A and $17m series B round. Last week, Global Legal Post wrote about how US company Casetext, which provides artificial intelligence-based legal research technology for lawyers, announced that it had closed a $12m series B funding round.