In September 2017, venerable Magic Circle law firm Allen & Overy launched Fuse, setting aside a portion of its London office for a collaborative innovation space to develop and test new legal technologies, and it named lawyer Shruti Ajitsaria to head the project. On the latest episode of LawNext, Ajitsaria joins me to discuss why Allen & Overy started Fuse, explain what it does, and describe its work to date.
Ajitsaria says Fuse is not an incubator, per se, but a collaborative technology innovation space that gives legal technology companies the opportunity to work directly with Allen & Overy’s lawyers and clients. It’s a win-win, she says. Companies get the chance to test and refine their products, while the firm’s lawyers get to better understand how technology can help them in their own practices.
Ajitsaria was a credit-derivatives lawyer dabbling in angel investing when a pitch from a legal technology startup sparked her interest in legal technology. While on maternity leave, she attended Google Campus’ Startup School, and when she returned to work, suggested and then spearheaded the development of Fuse.
Fuse differs from other incubators in that it accepts companies that are beyond early stage. Participants in the current cohort include AI platforms Kira Systems and Neota Logic. Another participant, Bloomsbury AI, was acquired in July by Facebook. Allen & Overy so much liked the first company it brought into Fuse, fintech company Nivaura, that it made an equity investment in it.
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