PwC enters UK LawTech market with ThoughtRiver collaboration

24 February 2020 3 min. read
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PwC has continued its steady expansion into the UK legal market with the announcement of a new collaboration with technology firm ThoughtRiver. The partnership will see the launch of a number of AI-driven LawTech products, aimed at standardising PwC’s service of UK law clients.

Business demand for technologies that aim to support, supplement or replace traditional methods for delivering legal services has spiked in the UK over the last few years. LawTech can improve the way the justice system operates, both in terms of effectiveness and efficiency, and the LawTech sector consists of law firms delivering legal services through technology, and the vendors that develop and supply technology solutions to those firms. Systems are already available that can draft documents, undertake legal research, disclose documents in litigation, perform due diligence and provide legal guidance, and resolve disputes online.

Looking to tap into this growing demand, PwC has entered the UK’s burgeoning LawTech scene via a new partnership with ThoughtRivers. The resulting ‘NewLaw’ AI platform will enable PwC customers to enshrine legal knowledge within their business, with Internal tests indicating the technology has potential time savings of a third for general counsels. The first ThoughtRiver-powered products are expected to go live early in 2020.

PwC enters UK LawTech market with ThoughtRiver collaboration

Mike Bailey, PwC UK Tax Technology and Transformation Leader, said, “PwC has the longest established legal practice, with the largest global footprint of any leading professional services firm. This collaboration with ThoughtRiver represents an entry into the ‘LawTech’ space, which has until now been dominated by start-up brands. We are at a turning point at which we have the opportunity to embed PwC’s unique legal expertise in cutting edge software. We look forward to working with ThoughtRiver to develop an AI solution that will offer significant benefits to our clients.”

ThoughtRiver is a leading presence in intelligent legal pre-screening. The company’s core platform Lexible standardises the interpretation and review of legal contracts. The collaboration with PwC sees the Big Four firm adopt Lexible to support its LawTech offering. AI trained on millions of individual contracts will now work to remove uncertainty and variation for PwC clients from legal documents through standardisation. The move will see ThoughtRiver’s system integrated with the human knowledge and expertise of PwC’s rapidly growing Legal practice.

Tim Pullan, CEO of ThoughtRiver, remarked, “This is a significant development, allowing PwC to enshrine its corporate intelligence and intellectual property within ThoughtRiver’s Lexible contract knowledge tree, which standardises the interpretation and review of legal contracts, to create a true digital standard. For ThoughtRiver, this is more than just a strategic relationship. We’re excited to work with PwC on a project that will open up new efficiencies for legal services in 2020 and beyond.”

The news fits into a trend in which the world’s largest four auditing and advisory firms are increasingly advancing into the field of legal services. The quartet could draw $30 billion from legal services, were they to fully expand into the market, while a recent survey has found that 69% of law firms see Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and EY as major threats to their market share, following successful forays into a host of other segments by the gang of four. Deloitte also recently concluded deals with migration lawyers.