Slaughters seeks out generative AI-focused products for next incubator programme

Magic Circle firm opens applications for fourth round of its Collaborate initiative
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Slaughter and May has today opened applications for the latest round of its legaltech programme Collaborate. 

The 12-week programme is open to all types of legaltech products at all stages of development, although Slaughters said it was encouraging applications from products with a generative AI focus. Successful applicants will receive dedicated feedback, support, skills sessions, mentoring and access to the firm’s network of industry contacts. The deadline is 29 February.

Collaborate programme lead Billie Heer said: “We are interested in working with legaltech companies whose products will not only assist our lawyers but will also offer broader solutions to the in-house teams at our clients, as well as facilitating operations of legal businesses generally. We’re broadening the programme beyond just looking at transactional solutions, and I’m really excited to see what that brings.”

Successful applicants will have access to the firm’s lawyers and business services teams for product testing and feedback, as well as its information security, pitching, marketing and comms teams for advice and guidance. Cohort members are also given the opportunity to pitch to Slaughters for funding at the end of the programme, and may be invited to pilot their solution with the firm.

Additional support will be available from several of Slaughters’ international peers via the Collaborate Advisory Network, the firm said, and the 17 companies it has worked with since the programme was launched in 2019 via the Collaborate Alumni Network. Among them are businesses that have created products including secure messaging apps, knowledge management tools and an online dispute resolution platform. 

Each cohort member will also have access to Slaughters’ Client Innovation Network. Set up in 2021, the network acts as a forum for members of in-house legal and legal operations teams to share ideas and experiences within the legaltech space. The firm said the network now has more than 120 members from industry sectors including telecoms, financial institutions and consumer and retail.

Jane Stewart, head of knowledge and innovation, added: “I am really excited that we are bringing a generative AI focus to Collaborate this year given the recent advances and opportunities in this area for us and our clients. The programme offers us a great opportunity to understand what new and innovative solutions are out there, whilst continuing to offer support and guidance for growing legaltech businesses.”

The programme sits against a background of growing pressure on law firms to use technology to deliver work more flexibly and efficiently and offset years of salary raises among their junior employees. 

Since the firm last ran Collaborate in 2022 there has also been an explosion of interest in AI, and particularly generative AI, in the legal industry off the back of the launch of ChatGPT late last year by OpenAI. 

Some law firms have embraced the technology, including Allen & Overy and Macfarlanes, which announced earlier this year they partnered with a startup founded by a former O’Melveny & Myers antitrust litigator and backed by OpenAI to use its generative AI tool that has been specifically designed for legal work. 

The tool – known as Harvey – uses natural language processing, machine learning and data analytics to automate tasks such as reviewing, analysing and summarising documents. Macfarlanes said the tool can answer general legal questions, as well as undertake drafting.

Last month Eversheds Sutherland appointed partner Nasser Ali Khasawneh, leader of its TMT sector, as its first global head of AI. Dubai-based Khasawneh will lead a newly-formed global AI leadership team.

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