Christophe Frèrebeau has a vision of where he wants his company’s artificial intelligence contract review technology to be in 10 years: “Our dream would be to be able to answer a question about a legal document, and answer it like a lawyer would.”
Frèrebeau is the cofounder and CEO of Della, a two-year-old legal technology startup that has already made significant steps towards that vision, and that is today announcing that it has raised $2.5 million in seed funding to move it even closer.
Based in London and Paris, Della says its technology focuses on the questions lawyers really want answered in contracts, whether the technology is used for reviews of large volumes of contracts or a single complex contract. Lawyers can create checklists to ask their own questions about contracts or use Della’s preconfigured checklists.
“We are really trying to create an AI that is extremely scalable,” Frèrebeau said in an interview yesterday. “We want to provide a solution that lawyers find easy to use and are using, but create data that makes the system better for everyone.”
The company says its product is already being used by small and large law firms across multiple countries, including Mishcon de Reya LLP, Eversheds Sutherland, Fidal, and several large multinational, enterprise organizations.
Della recently completed a 12-week program in Mishcon de Reya’s London-based legal tech incubator MDR Lab. It was the third-top vote getter in the 2021 Startup Alley at ABA Techshow (which I organize).
In France, Della’s AI technology is integrated into Legisway, Wolters Kluwer’s legal management solution for legal departments. Della is also a Thomson Reuters Legal Professional Partner, integrating with the HighQ legal business management platform.
Expand in U.S. Market
With this latest raise, Frèrebeau told me, Della plans to invest in growing its market — primarily through expansion within the United States, where it already has some customers. It will begin systematically targeting U.S. customers this year and plans to open a U.S. office in 2023.
As of now, most of its customers are in France and the U.K., but the platform is trained on more than 20 languages and is also currently being used by customers in other European countries, as well in Asia.
The company will also invest in hiring additional staff to work on product development, sales and marketing.
Both new and existing investors participated in this funding round, with new investor Pragmatech Ventures joining Thibault Poutrel, Frederic Montagnon and other international investors, who have supported Della since its launch.
How It Is Distinct
Frèrebeau said that Della is distinct from other contract review products on the market in several ways.
For one, its AI understands how real people speak, taking into account how syntax and grammar of a query interact, he said. This means that lawyers can easily find the information they are looking for, even if it is buried within hundreds of legal documents.
For another, Della then provides an output in the form of a custom report or summary that is as close in format to what lawyers might produce for their clients.
“We help them create the summary — sometimes five, ten pages — that they send to their clients, and it’s 80% to 90% final when it comes out of Della. So we help them generate the commentaries, we help them create the client output.”
While the company started with a focus on larger-scale document reviews, such as for an M&A or GDPR compliance, and continues to be used for those matters, it has also evolved to help lawyers with the more common task of reviewing a single complex agreement, such as a 200-page construction or franchise agreement.
“We’ve discovered that we can help our clients on very common use cases they have on complex documents,” Frèrebeau said, “so things that happen every week, and that’s actually more interesting to them.”
“When I talk to lawyers about Della, I’ll talk about the fact that they can control the AI themselves,” he said. “They can completely configure it to what they want without having to train it, and automate and secure some very good processes.”