Global law firm Baker McKenzie is enhancing its collaboration with end-to-end contract automation platform, Avvoka, as it continues to strengthen its position as a leader in the digitization of the legal industry.

Founded by two ex-City solicitors in 2016, Avvoka was an early participant in the Firm’s innovative Legaltech Startup Engagement Programme, which is designed to encourage early stage, associate-driven trials of new technology hitting the market.

Speaking about the Programme and the collaboration, Ben Allgrove, Baker McKenzie’s Global R&D Partner, said: “We want to explore new technologies early on, to better serve our clients and solve their complex problems. We want to partner with startups so that we can help nurture innovative legal technology and strong talent, while also giving our associate talent opportunities to play with the art of the possible.

“It’s about working together and learning from each other to progress product development at the beginning of its lifecycle. That often means that the use case we ultimately sign up for is not the use case a provider or platform initially comes to us with. That journey, the collaboration and the meeting of minds to solve real problems for clients - that's the sweet spot we are looking for. There are clear benefits not just for us, but for the startup too."

After an initial proof of concept phase, the Firm will use Avvoka’s platform on two projects that were not originally envisaged by Avvoka or the Firm. "This shows the real value of the programme,” says Allgrove. "Avvoka came to us with a product that did X (deal automation). We worked with them to explore how it could work for us, and have ended up deploying it in production to do Z (collaboration on large scale multijurisdictional advice) and Y (global trade mark recordal projects), meeting our needs and opening new product opportunities to them. We expect we will discover even more opportunities as more people within the Firm get to work with them."

Sam Haines, BD Head at Avvoka, said: “Baker McKenzie is a forward-thinking firm so it’s exciting to be part of their ecosystem. By collaborating we not only gain domain expertise and market credibility, but looking at the bigger picture, we can be part of defining the market in what is an increasingly dynamic industry.” 

Baker McKenzie is already engaged with a number of other startup companies, with more planned for the future. Earlier this year, and as part of the Firm's wider global innovation strategy, Baker McKenzie partnered with Barclay Eagle Labs, a new law-tech initiative to help transform the legal industry. Elsewhere the Firm partnered with LitiGate, a Tel Aviv-based legal tech venture, to develop and test a litigation platform that uses AI to automate legal research and argument assessment in relation to High Court applications.

The Firm is one of the founding sponsors of  “ReInvent Law“, the first Legal Innovation Hub in Continental Europe and is home to the  Whitespace Legal Collab, which aims to address changing client needs, new industry dynamics, and the broader role of digitization across the economy and has deployed solutions from ReInvent startup Bryter in client work already. 

More recently, the Firm has partnered with the Accord Project to assist in the development of industry-wide standards for smart legal contracts and deployed ContraxSuite by LexPredict, an open-source contract analytics and legal document platform, recently purchased by Elevate. 

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