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Around the World Tour: Nextlaw Labs and Nextlaw Ventures in Russia

Nextlaw Labs and Nextlaw Ventures kicked off our 2018 collaboration with Legal Geek’s Around the World Tour in Moscow last week. Legal Geek founder Jimmy Vestbirk and Nextlaw Labs Head of Product Maya Markovich first visited the Skolkovo Innovation Center, Russia’s ‘Silicon Valley.’  Anton Pronin, director of legal tech acceleration at the Skolkovo IT cluster, guided the team through the Center, from the startup village to the R&D labs, home to Russia’s  largest 3-D printer. The Skolkovo complex is huge, growing fast, and bursting at the seams with 1,700 startups – and a dramatic uptick in legal tech startup applications this year.

That afternoon, they connected with Holger Zscheyge, managing director of Infotropic Media with an encyclopedic knowledge of Russian legal tech,  and Andrey Neznamov, Dentons Moscow attorney and AI expert for an evening of startup pitching, networking, and traditional Russian cuisine. A remarkable fifteen startups pitched cutting edge concepts and products to transform the practice of law worldwide, including Smartz.io, a smart contracts platform/marketplace; Legal Box, with a system that checks websites for compliance with data privacy rules; and excellent entries addressing well-known legal practice pain points including billing and contract drafting.

A strict three-minute pitch limit did not constrain the startups’ focus, enthusiasm, and understanding of challenges experienced by lawyers in Russia and beyond. The judges scored each pitch on criteria including strength of value proposition, knowledge of competitive landscape, and proposed solutions for barriers to entry. It was difficult to choose among the strong field of contenders, but the judges ultimately settled on two winners: Pravoved‘s  AI-based “robolawyer” and TurboContract, a collaborative document drafting system that bills itself as “Google Docs for lawyers.” These startups will travel to London in October, along with some of the world’s most innovative legal tech businesses and influencers, at LegalGeek’s annual conference.

For more photos and a list of all participating startups and judges, check LegalGeek’s Moscow roundup. A pitch decks pack can be downloaded here (though not all startups presented with slides, and most are in Russian). Infotropic’s livestream recording is viewable on YouTube.

We have much to learn about legal tech in regions outside our familiar bubble, and with Dentons offices in 66 countries, we have the opportunity to nurture an ever-growing community of legal innovators. Legal Geek’s Around the World Tour is proof positive that legal tech is a movement without borders, and Moscow was the ideal kickoff location. The energy around legal tech is palpable – Russia is a region to watch.

Next, Nextlaw Labs and Nextlaw Ventures head to Singapore, Australia, and San Francisco!