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Linklaters legal AI partner ropes in market-leading £13m investment

An artificial intelligence (AI) company boasting Linklaters as one of its key clients is targeting the world’s biggest firms after securing £13m in one of the legal tech sector’s biggest investments.

Heavyweight investors Goldman Sachs and Temasek, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, co-led on the investment in Eigen Technologies, announced Monday (11 June). The round outstrips the $10m raised late last year by fellow AI player, legal tech darling and Slaughter and May investment, Luminance. It also builds on seed funding it received from CVC Capital Partners managing partner Jonathan Feuer.

Eigen has strong legal roots, being headed by former Linklaters adviser Lewis Liu and having in November last year secured former Slaughters corporate partner Adam Eastell as its first general counsel (GC). The company has 50 staff across offices in London and New York but plans to use the investment to expand in the legal sector.

It services clients across finance and professional services in addition to law, with clients in addition to Magic Circle firm Linklaters including Goldman Sachs, Evercore and ING. It says it helps companies analyse unstructured qualitative data sets, with the company more of an AI service-provider than a specific product.

Liu told Legal Business: ‘What differentiates us is we’re not looking for one particular use case. It is a generic platform, so you can bring a non-technical user to it. The machine itself is very quick to analyse and answer questions.’

Eastell added that they hope this generalist approach, differing to the specialist tools of well-established competitors like Luminance and Kira, will provide an edge for the relative unknown in the competitive market.

He commented: ‘If you look at something like Luminance or Kira, they are focusing on M&A due diligence. We believe we can be the one stop shop for law firms. Can we do M&A due diligence? Yes we can, but that isn’t where we stop.’

Linklaters has a long-standing relationship with Eigen, which was founded in October 2014. The firm worked in collaboration with Eigen to develop its legal AI platform, Nakhoda. In April, the firm launched a service developed with Nakhoda to help the pain points of derivatives players scrambling to comply with Initial Market (IM) regulations.

Eigen would not disclose turnover or other legal clients, but Eastell said some of the funding would be used to extend its client list, as well as expand sales and marketing teams and invest in developing the technology. It is also eyeing up expansion into Asia and the Americas.

‘We are focusing on large, London-based but also global law firms in the same category as Linklaters. Law firms are sitting on large data. I know from my time at Slaughters, and other firms will agree, they don’t make good use of it, but our machine can make good use of it.’

Despite the firm’s touted interest in the legal sector, investment from Goldman Sachs and Temasek hints at the company receiving more support from the financial sector, while sceptics suggest the company provides a series of technology services rather than a specific legal tech product.

Liu sees the financial sector as more receptive than the legal industry: ‘The banks have been more forward thinking, as they are tech companies themselves. Goldman Sachs consider themselves a tech company.’

But they are confident in expanding in legal, as Eastell summates: ‘When clients see this tech work, more and more law firms will adopt it.’

For more on the legal tech start-up market, read ‘The wheat from the chaff – Hustling star-ups meet City law