[Updated to include comments from Mark Harris, Knowable CEO, and Ritu Khanna, executive vice president, Global Strategy & Acquisitions, at LexisNexis.]

LexisNexis Legal & Professional today announced that it has entered into an agreement to form a joint venture with Knowable, a company that uses machine-learning technology to help companies better understand their contracts.

Knowable was just formed in February, as a spin-off from alternative legal services provider Axiom as it took steps to prepare for an initial public offering. Axiom’s cofounders, Mark Harris and Alec Guettel, will lead Knowable as CEO and CFO.

According to a statement announcing the deal, Knowable will operate independently, but will benefit from access to LexisNexis’  brand, resources, and infrastructure. The partnership will further enable LexisNexis to help customers improve decision-making and achieve better outcomes, the statement said.

Knowable says that its customers include many of the world’s largest companies, such as Dell, GE, and Nestlé USA. It provides machine-learning enabled contract data analytics and related contract intelligence technology.

According to the statement:

“Knowable provides clients revolutionary visibility into the relationships that govern business activities, mitigates risks, and drives value. By converting legal language into structured data, Knowable helps its clients understand what’s in their contracts, providing a global view of risks, obligations, and entitlements.”

In the statement, Mike Walsh, LexisNexis Legal & Professional CEO, described Knowable as a leader in contract analytics. “Bringing this expertise together with our own strengths in AI, machine learning and natural language processing, as well as our vast content sets, will enable us to deliver new and unmatched innovations that will transform the way our customers work.”

Update at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time

After posting this, I had the opportunity to speak with Knowable CEO Harris and Ritu Khanna, executive vice president, Global Strategy & Acquisitions, at LexisNexis.

Both Harris and Khanna described the joint venture as a perfect fit given the positions of both companies. For LexisNexis, Khanna emphasized that it has invested heavily in recent years, both through development and acquisitions, in improving its platform to provide an array of analytics in different disciplines and using various data sets. This joint venture, she said, will be the best solution for providing enterprise contract analytics to LexisNexis customers.

Harris said the joint venture follows from Axiom’s decision in February to spin off Knowable as a separate contract analytics business. Although the technology was developed within Axiom and had been in use there for several years, it was such a different thing from Axiom’s core business that spinning off seemed the better route.

At the same time, it was understood that Knowable would need the right kind of partner to grow and develop, Harris said. In LexisNexis, it found a partner that is committed to this space, has deep domain expertise in analytics and has deep stores of content on which to build.

At the same time, he wanted an arrangement that would give his company and its employees the freedom and autonomy that would empower them to continue along the route they were on.

“All credit to them, they came up with this structure that works for everybody,” Harris said of LexisNexis.

Describing the field of contract analytics as nascent, Harris said his company’s goal is to see the technology become established. “I really think, five years from now, anyone who interacts with contracts on a regular basis will look back in disbelief that they couldn’t get access to this data.”

Although terms were not disclosed, the joint venture did involve an investment by LexisNexis in Knowable. Knowable will operate as a standalone business, but with access to all the resources available within LexisNexis.

“The guiding principle,” said Khanna, “was how do we make it possible for this hugely successful company to operate in an unencumbered way.”

Harris says he will transition out of his role as executive chairman at Axiom but will remain chairman of the board of directors.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.