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‘Young and ambitious’: Mishcon picks six legal start-ups for incubation programme

Mishcon de Reya has revealed a six-strong shortlist of legal tech start-ups to participate in its incubator programme, MDR LAB. The companies were selected after a pitch day at Mishcon’s London office on 25 April, where 19 companies presented their products.

The MDR LAB project is the latest of several technology incubation programmes where law firms are offering free legal advice to hook up with up-and-coming companies early in their development. Slaughter and May, Simmons & Simmons and Addleshaw Goddard have similar programmes which focus on fintechs, although Mishcon’s MDR Lab focusses exclusively on legal start-ups.

Overseen by chief strategy officer Nick West and in conjunction with tech investment fund L Marks, MDR LAB seeks to promote legal-minded technology that will benefit both lawyers and their clients. The scheme began in January.

The chosen companies will now engage in a ten week period where their products are applied to the market, with the start-ups given access to Mishcon’s roster of lawyers for advice.

West (pictured) told Legal Business that the firm hopes to run the programme again in the future, and commented: ‘Fundamentally it was a good fit between what they wanted to do and what we wanted to do. We focus on certain types of law, so we didn’t want to pick companies who were way outside of our expertise. They’re young and ambitious start-ups who want to change the way that the legal industry works.’

Of the six selected companies, two are based in the UK with the other four coming from Germany, the US and India.

Everchron is a start-up founded by former litigators designed for intuitive management of litigation cases. The technology automatically generates witness files and allows lawyers to quickly find relevant information.

Orbital Witness is a concept stage start-up based on assisting real estate lawyers via satellite imagery. It provides historical images of a site and claims to be an improvement on existing satellite image technology such as Google Earth. Orbital Witness aims to use machine learning to analyse imagery and solve clients’ queries.

Ping is a US-based product which automates timekeeping and provides data analysis for law firms, while SaltDNA is a Belfast-based start-up which offers software which enables complete privacy in mobile communications.

Indian start-up Surukam is a tool for managing contracts and Berlin-based company Synergist allows customers to draft, negotiate and sign contracts without redlines or email.

Mishcon’s hire of West from New Law pioneer Axiom was the start of a clear strategic push into the legal tech arena. Last year saw the launch of Mishcon Discover, making the firm the first in the UK to provide e-discovery services in partnership with a technology provider.

Other firms to invest up and coming legal tech firms include Dentons, which created NextLaw Labs in 2015 to boost innovation. NextLaw Labs invested in legal tech start-up Apperio in March 2016 and backed two startups, Libryo and Clause, as part of an initial co-investment worth around €200,000 towards the end of last year.

For more on Mishcon, read: ‘The USP – What is Mishcon’s secret formula?’