Simmons & Simmons embraces NewLaw movement with ‘legal engineering’ acquisition

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By Adam Mawardi on

BigLaw continues to make big moves into the lawtech space

International law firm Simmons & Simmons has become the latest outfit to join the wave of BigLaw buying up NewLaw following the acquisition of a startup specialising in ‘legal engineering’.

Bought for an undisclosed price was Wavelength, the first law firm to specifically offer ‘legal engineering’ as a service. In addition to legal advice, Wavelength, born out of Barclays Eagle Labs startup incubator in Cambridge, provides legal tech consulting and builds bespoke tech products for a mix of private practice and in-house legal teams. Following the acquisition, Wavelength will operate within Simmons & Simmons, as ‘Simmons Wavelength’, to introduce new services and solutions for the firm’s clients.

On the deal, Simmons & Simmons managing partner, Jeremy Hoyland, said:

“This is an exciting opportunity for the firm and one that will give our clients a clear advantage. It demonstrates that we are serious about delivering smarter solutions for our clients and that we are driving change for the better in the legal market.”

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The transaction is a win-win for both sides. For Simmons & Simmons, which boasts around 280 partners across 19 countries, the deal groups them with other big firms making even bigger moves into the NewLaw scene. Speaking to Artificial Lawyer, Hoyland continued:

“We approached Wavelength because we wanted to provide a better offering for our clients. All the big firms have been struggling with this area [of legal technology]. Wavelength has a lot of people who can help with this, and it would have been hard to grow such a capability organically.”

This announcement follows on from Thomson Reuters’ acquisition of collaboration platform HighQ last week and from Big four accountancy titan EY’s purchase of legal innovation outfit Riverview Law last year.

For Wavelength, which has seen rapid growth since its launch in 2016, it will allow access to Simmons & Simmons already established international client base, while offering support and capital to continue expansion. Co-founders Drew Winlaw and Peter Lee (both lawyers) will also become partners at the City firm, while leading the legal tech startup from its offices in London and Cambridge.

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