The number of artificial intelligence companies catering to the legal field has grown by 65 percent in the last year, from 40 to 66.

This finding is from the In-House Counsel’s LegalTech Buyer’s Guide 2018, published today by the contract review automation company LawGeex.

The increase in AI companies includes a number of “agile and well-funded startups,” says the guide, but also a number of established players that are joining the field, such as LexisNexis with its Lexis Answers and Bloomberg Law with its Points of Law.

As its title suggests, the guide is oriented to in-house counsel. It covers AI for uses such as contract review, e-discovery, legal analytics, prediction, due diligence, legal research and e-billing. It also covers a variety of other legal technologies, including for digital signatures, task management and communications.

The guide also details the 22 largest legal technology mergers and acquisitions and the 45 largest fundings in the sector over the past year.

My instinct is to be highly skeptical of a purported buyers’ guide that is written and published by a company that competes within that market. But this guide actually appears to be entirely neutral, giving LawGeex no greater billing than any other listed company. The entries for all the listed companies appear fair and many include comments from actual users.

Two Observations

Two further points worth noting about this guide:

First, its listing of AI companies is not complete. Most notably, it omits Thomson Reuters, whose Westlaw, with its natural-language processing, was one of the earliest AI products in legal. Thomson Reuters Labs and, within it, the Center for Cognitive Computing, are major initiatives devoted to the study of AI and data science. Just in January, TR rolled out an AI-powered product for data privacy law.

In addition, there are a number of small legal tech startups that are using AI but that are not included on this list.

Second, when the guide suggests that established players such as LexisNexis are joining the field, it should be pointed out, for the sake of accuracy, that LexisNexis, like TR, was using AI in its research platform well before most of these other players came along.

Because of the buzz around AI in recent years, companies have become more explicit in talking about it and marketing around it. But AI in legal has been around for a number of years in contexts such as research and e-discovery.