Legal Business Blogs

Siri meets GC? Riverview bets big with the launch of a ‘virtual assistant’ for clients

After spending the last 18 months investing in automated services for in-house teams, Riverview Law has created a virtual assistant to help legal teams make ‘quicker and better decisions’.

The package dubbed Kim – standing for knowledge, intelligence and meaning – combines Riverview’s services with automation, data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).

The new platform contains Riverview’s existing suite of services, such as its US-based knowledge automation business CliXLEX, which it acquired in June this year; its ‘Solutions Prototyping Consultancy’ launched in September to help global corporations and mid-sized companies improve their technology; and document review tools. According to Riverview, the technology is designed to be configured and made active for in-house teams in one day.

The launch is a key moment for Riverview, which is aiming to establish itself as one of the leading New Law brand names alongside larger rivals such as the US-based group Axiom. Having initially launched in 2012 to target small and medium-sized businesses with a range of fixed fee products, Riverview has increasingly focused on handling routine-heavy contract and compliance work for sizeable institutional clients, arguing that its focus on technology can see it outperform law firms. The Wirral-based business now has 150 staff and revenues of just over £5m, according to its 2014 accounts.

Riverview chief executive Karl Chapman argues that virtual assistants comparable to systems like Siri, Cortana and Hive will increasingly be used to assess and handle legal issues.

Chapman told Legal Business: ‘[Kim is] very quick and easy to use and provides speed and savings in cost. We wanted to get to a place where using technology is a natural thing and came up with the name Kim. It’s a tool that delivers our solutions under one brand. This is about in-housers trying to do things themselves without using a third-party. Look at what Uber have done – they have put the power into the hands of the customer.’

The development also builds on Riverview’s partnership with the University of Liverpool earlier this year, which aims to apply cutting-edge AI, text processing and data mining to provide in-house teams with decision support tools.

‘Because the Kim technology is applicable to all sectors, we are running this as if it is a stand-alone business. In this context, Riverview Law licenses the Kim technology on an arms-length basis and exploits it in the legal market,’ added Chapman. ‘This allows us to productise our knowledge in ways that help in-house functions of all sizes, in all sectors, globally. We are very focused on scaling our business internationally using technology as the entry point into new geographies.’

While Riverview has been using the system internally for 12 months, Kim officially launches in the first quarter of 2016 and will be open to the legal market, initially targeting English-speaking countries and then European countries starting with Spain, and then Germany and France.

With the launch coming amid a growing debate regarding the role and prospects for artificial intelligence in the law, there will be much scrutiny of whether Kim can live up to Riverview’s emphatic sales pitch.