In Japan, the legal technology company LegalOn, which has operated there under the name LegalForce, is one of the largest providers of AI contract review technology to corporations and law firms, with more than 3,000 customers, 400 employees and $131 million in fundraising, including $101 million this year.
But in the U.S., LegalOn is virtually unknown.
That is likely to soon change as the company is now announcing its expansion into the U.S. market, where it will launch a period of free early access to its product in January to select users and organizations.
To lead its U.S. expansion, LegalOn has tapped Daniel Lewis as U.S. CEO. Lewis was cofounder and CEO of the legal research and analytics platform Ravel Law, which LexisNexis acquired in 2017. After the acquisition, he oversaw several LexisNexis businesses, most recently as vice president and general manager of practical guidance and analytical.
The company is now also changing its name globally to LegalOn and discontinuing the LegalForce name.
“LegalOn has built the world’s leading AI contract review solution for in-house teams and law firms and we are excited to bring our unique solution to the US,” said Nozomu Tsunoda, the company’s founder and CEO. “We have over 3,000 customers, a team of 400 employees, $101m in recent fundraising, and now we’ve added an experienced executive, Daniel Lewis, to lead our U.S. expansion.”
Recently, I met with Tsunoda and Lewis (pictured together above), along with others on the LegalOn team to discuss the company and its U.S. expansion.
‘The Next Logical Step’
Tsunoda was a lawyer practicing corporate law when he became frustrated with the frequency of mistakes and the time consumed in reviewing contracts. Believing that using AI to review contracts could help improve review accuracy and reduce review time, he and another lawyer founded the company in 2017.
The company launched its first product in 2019 and now has 3,000 customers in Japan and a team of 400 employees. Earlier this year, it raised $101 million in Series D funding, for total funding to date of $132 million.
The Series D round was led by by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, with participation from Sequoia China, Goldman Sachs, World Innovaion Lab, Mizuho Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and others.
Believing that the U.S. market was the next logical step in the company’s expansion, Tsunoda tapped Lewis as U.S. CEO, having been aware of his work both with Ravel Law and LexisNexis.
For Lewis, he had been studying the contract review market and had concluded that no company in the U.S. market had effectively solved the pain points around contract review. Seeing the traction that LegalOn had achieved in Japan and its product’s unique approach to contract review, he was excited to join the company and help bring its product to the U.S.
AI Meets Practical Guidance
What makes LegalOn’s contract review platform unique, Lewis said, is that it combines AI with practical legal guidance. Load a contract into the system and the AI will parse it, clause by clause, alerting the user to recommended amendments, potential risks, and possible missing clauses, with its recommendations backed by a deep set of editorial guidance.
The guidance supporting the AI’s recommendations is developed by a team of attorneys who are on staff with the company, Lewis said. Guidance is written to be specific to the type of clause and type of contract.
The product’s AI comes pre-trained, so it fits more naturally into the day-to-day flow of a commercial contracts attorney, Lewis said. It also supports companies’ use of their own contract playbooks for comparing clauses.
LegalOn will launch a free early access period starting in January 2023 to select users and organizations. Companies and law firms interested in the technology can find more information and sign up for early access at LegalOnTech.com.
While the Japanese version of the product supports more than 60 contract types, the U.S. launch will initially support only non-disclosure agreements, with other contract types to be added over time.
“One of the biggest challenges that general counsel and in-house teams face is providing timely review on urgent, high-volume contracts like NDAs and purchase agreements,” said Lewis. “LegalOn’s product combines sophisticated AI with detailed legal guidance content, so lawyers can work quickly and stay in control.
“I’m confident we can help innovative legal teams solve the contract review problem, freeing them to focus on important, strategic work.”