The NLP capabilities of doc analysis company Della are at the heart and centre of the Wolters Kluwer (WK) strategy to become a player in the CLM field via its Legisway platform in the US and Europe, a role that may have major benefits for both parties.
Artificial Lawyer spoke to Ken Crutchfield, Vice President & General Manager of Legal Markets at WK in the US and Christophe Frèrebeau, founder and CEO of Della, about the move, (pictured above L and R).
First, what’s happening? Della, a UK- and France-based NLP-driven document analysis system that is known for working well in multiple languages and has clients such as Hengeler Mueller and Mishcon de Reya, started to work with Legisway in around 2020, following its purchase by WK back in 2018.
In Europe Della’s technology has helped Legisway to do things such as extract customer’s contract data from own or third party paper, as well as capturing key data from historical doc stacks that can be ingested in large volumes into the system – as other CLM players do. Now, Legisway is moving into the US as well, backed by WK’s extensive marketing operation – and once again with the doc analysis aspects powered by Della.
For Della, it’s both a high-profile relationship and one that this site would assume generates a healthy flow of revenue for the startup – although Frèrebeau won’t explain how the financial deal works. Crutchfield did however note that customers just pay one price to WK, there is no add-on cost for the use of Della.
Meanwhile for WK, having Della is a very useful product alliance as most modern CLM systems, from Ironclad to Evisort to Agiloft, have some form of NLP on hand to help crunch data inside contracts.
Or, as Crutchfield explained: ‘One of the key things for CLM is that we need AI. We worked with Della and were satisfied with its ability to extract information.’
While, Frèrebeau added that they had pitched to Legisway as far back as January 2019, back when it was still primarily seen as a Franco-Dutch business. He added: ‘Legisway is a high-end product, and clients can customise it for their needs very easily. We also have the multilingual capability, so this has been a good fit.’
At present the relationship is not exclusive for Della, as ‘others can use our API, but WK cannot use other AI providers for now’.
So, Della is keeping its options open. Although this site had to ask: why not just combine? WK needs Della, and Della will benefit financially if Legisway expands as hoped throughout the US CLM market – which is by far the largest potential market for such technology at present.
Both parties immediately stated that there were no plans for that. Fair enough, but given the current M&A climate for legal tech, one has to ask…
Crutchfield then added that although Legisway is offering a CLM capability it has many other aspects and they are looking to see how it can help American companies handle the ever-growing complexity of US privacy rules, as more States develop their own rules. In fact, WK hopes to see the platform used for a wide range of needs including IP matters, not just standard contract management and data extraction.
Last point: why is WK going strong on CLM?
Crutchfield is clear: ‘It’s market demand and it’s where can we play effectivity. We are focused on regulated industries and helping the legal departments of companies in those areas is key, so we are looking at life sciences, energy and other sectors that are heavily regulated in particular [in relation to the future growth of Legisway.’
And to conclude, although there is a core CLM product there, and with Della at the heart of its data extraction capabilities, WK has plenty of other capabilities that it wants to offer in tandem with the CLM offering. One might say that contract management and contract data are the tip of the spear. And with Della, they are in a good place to do that.