Simmons & Simmons has made a rare acquisition in the form of legal engineering start-up Wavelength for an undisclosed sum.
Wavelength – which claims to be the first Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority-regulated legal engineering business in the world – uses data science, technology and design to assist on projects in the legal industry. The acquisition will see Simmons look to expose the London and Cambridge-based team to its client base.
‘From our perspective, there’s a pressure from clients for law firms to change, and sometimes that can be difficult,’ Simmons managing partner Jeremy Hoyland (pictured) told Legal Business. ‘When thinking about our larger mandates and the work we do for institutional clients, these matters are increasingly challenging from a data and technology perspective.’
Wavelength is led by co-founders Peter Lee and Drew Winlaw, who had been lawyers at Bird & Bird and Taylor Vinters respectively before founding the company in 2016. A 27-strong team is now expected to move into Simmons’ offices in London, while the company’s Cambridge office will become a Simmons outpost for a Wavelength team.
One of the major projects Simmons hopes to deploy the Wavelength team on is the firm’s response to the replacement of The London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), which acts as a benchmark for financial contracts worldwide worth over $350m.
‘For something like the replacement of LIBOR, if you don’t have a Wavelength-style skillset it would be difficult to have a credible offering,’ Hoyland added. ‘But to be honest, we are finding more opportunities all the time, just earlier I was with our regulatory partners and out of that there was an opportunity to look at deploying Wavelength.’
Lee, meanwhile, believes Simmons is the ideal fit for the company: ‘We always recognised we would have to scale up somehow. We’ve been working with Simmons for a bit over a year now and they have a great international spread and it’s a perfect fit culturally.’
In another significant acquisition, Thomson Reuters snapped up legal software provider HighQ last week as the company looks to make good on plans to bolster its cloud-based software products after selling its managed services arm to EY.