CMS, the US firm Cooley and Singapore-based Rajah & Tann Asia are the founding investors in the pioneering platform that is part of a unique collaboration with major company in-house legal departments and other top law firms. Matt Pollins, a CMS Technology, Media & Communications partner in Singapore and London, has become Lupl’s Chief Commercial Officer.
Legal matters often involve multiple moving parts including documents, communications, processes, people, tech applications and other information. This can pose a considerable challenge for a law firm or in-house legal department trying to manage these elements and collaborate internally and externally.
Lupl provides an open industry, cloud-based platform, enabling synchronisation of everything that goes into a legal matter. Being open access means that any law firm or legal department can use the technology, and its open application programming interfaces (APIs) allow any technology provider to integrate with the platform.
“If you look at legal tech, people have been very focused on narrow solutions to problems, but what is unique about Lupl is that it is an industry-wide effort that looks at the bigger picture,” says Matt Pollins. “This is why we brought in several law firms, a large group of legal departments and a number of technology players like iManage, NetDocuments and LexisNexis to solve the problem horizontally.”
Jane Challoner, Director of Innovation & Knowledge at CMS, adds, “Legal tech is usually specifically targeted at and sold to either large law firms or their in-house clients. There are very few products that are targeted at or co-created by both.” She says that the Lupl concept is very much rooted in macro social trends and consumer tech. “People actually enjoy using the popular consumer apps and they never need training – this makes them much more likely to be adopted and for users to stay loyal.”
While CMS, Cooley and Rajah & Tann Asia are the founding investors, an advisory board of 16 leading in-house lawyers from blue chip multinationals and growing tech companies are helping to develop the platform. A wider legal sector testing group includes Slaughter and May, Corrs Chambers Westgarth in Australia, Khaitan & Co in India and One Essex Court, the London barristers’ chambers.
Duncan Weston, Executive Partner at CMS, believes that the prevalence of proprietary closed systems has held the legal industry back and that Lupl is designed to overcome this, “This is an open and cross-industry movement. The co-development is a real community effort with a broad spread of different perspectives and a range of diverse views from a variety of sectors and markets. This includes industries such as oil and gas, technology, telecoms, consumer products and life sciences. The community is truly global with businesses headquartered in the US, Australia, Europe, Asia and elsewhere.”
Duncan Weston began developing the concept through conversations with colleagues and friends in the sector. He says that investing in this venture alongside two other major law firms, and bringing in such a large advisory and testing group, is completely unprecedented.
Cooperation with other firms and businesses was essential in the same way that automotive manufacturers are collaborating to develop electric vehicle technology. “It’s because the cost of development and scale of change needed is so huge,” he explains.
“The culture of law is siloed. The concept of joining forces with the competition is anathema. We are used to calling things costs, so investing money into something like this is not easy. At CMS, we have the scale and we have used it to co-invest in Lupl and share the cost across the organisation.”
He believes that the need for a platform like Lupl has become increasingly strong in recent years as firms have sought to develop bespoke technologies to enhance the client’s experience, “Clients have been asking law firms for multiple versions of native applications, so then they are faced with a bundle of technologies that are not integrated and a whole mass of technologies that nobody can actually use.”