10 October 2019

Legal reality imitates legal art

Inspired by "Suits" legal TV series, Donna secures $2.5 million in seed funding to replace the robot within the lawyer.

Sweden-based Donna says it is on a mission to replace the robot “within” the lawyer as it launches with $2.5 million in financing led by venture capital firm Point Nine Capital and other notable angel investors.

“A striking resemblance”

The “within” about Donna, the firms explains, is that she is an AI-assistant that replaces the robot within the lawyer, by making legal contract review error-proof, productive and fun. Donna is a Microsoft Word add-in that spots issues and alerts users by providing helpful suggestions to typical proof-reading errors in legal text.  “Think of it as a sophisticated spell-checker that improves the speed and accuracy of legal contract reviews,” explains Rik Nauta, co-founder and ceo. Bearing a striking resemblance to the witty and all-knowing legal assistant from the USA Network series Suits, Donna provides the right insights and comments at exactly the right time. The firm says that lawyers, like many professionals, face hours of repetitive tasks that include proofreading and going over every tiny little detail. This is precisely the area where AI tools like Donna excel, by replacing the robot within the human and allowing lawyers to focus on being lawyers, not proofreaders. Unlike most enterprise legal tech software, the firm claims Donna is simple and easy to adopt, for large firms as well as solo lawyers. Convenient to download as a Microsoft Word add-in, it only takes a few minutes to get started. “This simplicity is what Donna’s users love and why they can’t quite imagine being a lawyer without Donna by their side’” the firm claims. The firm says that to date, the response from lawyers has been overwhelmingly positive, with users from across 50 countries. “We’ve had a very clear focus on the user from the beginning. By getting to know lawyers and encouraging frequent feedback, we’ve been able to build a productivity tool that makes lawyers happy. This is one of the reasons why we are so pleased to partner with the Point Nine team, who has been at the forefront of investing in the consumerization of enterprise software for many years,” explains Mr Nauta.

“Kick-ass, personal COO”

Co-founders Rik Nauta and Anton Gerdes first came across the idea for Donna three years ago, when reviewing the Terms & Conditions found on websites, as part of their studies into Natural Language Processing (NLP). Having indexed over 2 billion websites, they found that almost a quarter of T&C documents were copied and contained errors that might invalidate them. By training a number of NLP algorithms over time to learn the context of legal language, Donna learned how to recognise a wide range of errors, clarify ambiguities, and provide helpful suggestions to the lawyer. The Donna team is constantly furthering Donna’s understanding of the law, and say “the next step will be to leverage Donna’s wits to add collaborative knowledge management features that enhance the productivity of teams or an entire firm as a whole. And who knows, one day she might even pass the bar exam, but until then Donna is one kick-ass, personal COO.”

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