Onit, the Houston company that provides enterprise workflow products for corporations and corporate legal departments, has acquired the New Zealand company McCarthyFinch, a provider of a suite of AI-driven contract management software designed to help automate contract reviews and approvals, and is unveiling two new AI products that incorporate the McCarthyFinch technology.

McCarthyFinch says its AI platform, authorAI, “reads, writes and reasons like a lawyer,” accelerating contract reviews and approvals by up to 70% and increasing user productivity by more than 50%. Its core product built on that platform, authorDOCS, is a Word add-in for legal document automation.

Onit says the acquisition reinforces its strategy “to deliver powerful AI-based workflow and business process automation solutions.” It will incorporate McCarthyFinch’s technology to further evolve its own product offerings as well as those of its subsidiary SimpleLegal, the legal spend, matter and vendor management technology company it acquired last year.

Eric Elfman

Specifically, Onit is announcing two products today that incorporate McCarthyFinch’s AI technology as in integral component: a new artificial intelligence platform Precedent, and the first product it is releasing on the platform, ReviewAI.

Onit says the Precedent platform will complement its existing no-code workflow automation platform, Apptitude, and drive AI and digital transformation in the legal market. The platform combines machine learning and natural language processing so legal teams can automate tasks and processes to make them more efficient, cost-effective and faster.

The first release on the platform, ReviewAI, focuses on pre-signature contract review, allowing legal departments to streamline contract creation, redlining, complex negotiations and risk rating. The technology learns from the inventory of a company’s contracts, leverages the company’s playbook and presents the results in a Microsoft Word plug-in.

“Our vision is to build AI into our workflow platform and every product across the Onit and SimpleLegal product portfolios,” Eric M. Elfman, Onit CEO and cofounder, said in a statement announcing the deal. “AI will have an active role in everything from enterprise legal management to legal spend management and contract lifecycle management, resulting in continuous efficiencies and cost savings for corporate legal departments.”

Nick Whitehouse

Nick Whitehouse, McCarthyFinch’s CEO and co-founder, will now become general manager of the newly rebranded Onit AI Center of Excellence. McCarthyFinch’s vice president of legal, Jean Yang, now becomes vice president of the Onit AI Center of Excellence.

“With AI, we’ve dramatically changed the contract management lifecycle and enabled businesses to move faster, provide higher-quality services and lower the cost of legal services,” Whitehouse said in a statement. “We are excited to join the Onit team and apply AI to Onit’s contract lifecycle management solution and expansive product offerings.”

If you are interested in learning more about the acquisition, Onit has posted a podcast episode featuring Elfman and Whitehouse discussing the deal.

After launching in 2010 as a web-based project management tool, Onit changed course in 2012 with the rollout of a line of business process applications. In the years since, it has become one of the leading providers of workflow solutions for enterprises and corporate legal departments. Its core products focus on enterprise legal management, legal spend management, matter management, and contract lifecycle management. It differentiates itself in the market through its focus on “better workflows, not better databases.”

Last year, K1 Investment Management, a Los Angeles private equity firm that specializes in investments in high-growth enterprise software companies, made a $200 million strategic investment in Onit. Shortly afterwards, cofounder and CEO Eric M. Elfman was a guest on my LawNext podcast to discuss the investment.

McCarthyFinch started as a project at the New Zealand law firm, MinterEllisonRuddWatts, before spinning off as a startup in 2017, according to a report in TechCrunch.

LawNext Episode 27: Founder Eric Elfman On Onit’s $200M Investment

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.