Nicholas (Nik) Reed was two months out of Stanford Law School when he and classmate Daniel Lewis cofounded the legal research company Ravel Law. Becoming its COO, he helped drive its growth.

When LexisNexis acquired Ravel in 2017, he became vice president of product strategy, playing a lead role in integrating Ravel’s visualization and analytics tools into Lexis Advance.

Now, Reed is leaving Ravel to join another legal technology startup, the Axiom spin-off Knowable.

Reed joins Knowable as senior vice president of product and research and development, reporting directly to CEO Mark Harris, the Axiom cofounder who moved to Knowable when Axiom spun it off as a separate company last February.

(For more on Harris, listen to my recent LawNext interview with him.)

Knowable uses machine-learning technology and analytics to help companies better understand their contracts. Reed’s role will be to lead product development, research and design and to help the company accelerate its growth and expansion into new markets.

Last July, LexisNexis announced an investment in Knowable and a joint venture by which Knowable would continue to operate independently, but would be able to have access to LexisNexis’ brand, resources and infrastructure.

It was while LexisNexis was exploring the joint venture that Reed became intrigued about what Knowable was building, he told me during a recent phone call. Michael Walsh, CEO of LexisNexis Legal & Professional, also saw synergy between Reed’s work and Knowable’s and introduced him to Harris. As Reed got to know the company, he saw major opportunity and a largely untapped market.

When he and Lewis founded Ravel, he explained, they had ambitious plans to cover all of law. But with limited resources to start out, they focused on litigation, building tools such as the judge analytics product he later helped integrate into Lexis Advance as Context, which analyzes the language of judges’ opinions to identity the cases and arguments they fine persuasive.

While litigation analytics has come a long way since then in terms of acceptance and use, that is not yet the case on the transactions and contracts side of legal practice, he said. His goal at Knowable is to build the same kinds of analytics around contracts that are now common in litigation.

Three years from now, he believes, general counsel will rely on a contract analytics dashboard. They will be able to easily see, sort and filter all the contracts in their database. They will be able to see what exposure their company may have or what liability it may face.

“GC will drive decisions based on those analytics,” Reed said. “This will provide the voice of the lawyer at the table where business decisions are made.”

While Reed believes the desire of lawyers to have such tools is very real, he said that his challenge in product development will be to identify the first set of analytics that will really move the market — that a lawyer will see and say, “Holy smokes, with that kind of data, I can now go and make a real impact in my job.”

But Reed tells me he is already at work on this, using design sprints to rapidly iterate different dashboards and designs. And he emphasizes that, while Knowable as a company is new this year, the Knowable team has been working on this idea of structuring contract data for a decade.

Reed says the joint venture between LexisNexis and Knowable contains no mandate for the companies to work together on specific projects. But he believes there will be opportunities that can accelerate both companies’ growth.

“The core of what LexisNexis is doing is structuring all this unstructured data,” he said. “What Knowable is doing is structuring all these unstructured contracts. So as an overall business strategy, it makes a ton of sense for us to share.”

For more on Reed’s thoughts on product development, see his Nov. 18 article published on Medium, written together with Mark Myslin, senior data scientist at LexisNexis: AI in the Right Places: A Framework for Powering Data Analytics Products.

LawNext Episode 56: Mark Harris, Axiom Founder and Now Knowable CEO

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.