Amsterdam-based legal search and context platform Bluetick  acquired by Hague-HQed law specialists Sdu

Amsterdam-based legal search and context platform Bluetick was recently acquired by The Hague-HQed law specialists Sdu, a subsidiary of Europe-wide law services outfit Lefebvre Sarrut.

Bluetick has created an AI to let legal counsels rapidly grab actionable knowledge from their internal ecosystem of enforceable contracts, right down to specific subclauses. Basically the AI is trained to classify PDF scans and web-based text and then immediately index that data into the platform’s search engine.

There’s a little more to it than that – the startup also has tried to give legal context to every search query, aiming to reduce the time counsels spend with their heads buried in background sources, as they seek out possible contractual implications.

Legal knowledge in itself is a constantly evolving information repository. Entire legal rulings turn on what’s known as case law, namely judgements set out in prior cases. That makes it absolutely paramount for counsels to have a bulletproof understanding of legal histories.

Bluetick was founded in 2019 by four Masters’ alumni from Den Bosch’s Jheronimus Academy of Data Science: Koen Aarns, Kasper Kooyman, Thijs Kranenburg and Jeroen Zweers.

In the following year, the startup picked up €210,000 in pre-seed funds from two Amsterdam investors: henQ Capital and ASIF Ventures. The latter reportedly sold down its shareholding on January 11.

Sdu came on board to drill down on the contextual legal element and, thanks partly to its input, the platform evolved to integrate many Dutch legal understandings but also Europe-wide rulings, which are equally critical as they often override member state legislation. Even with the legal tech boom, there’s been a preponderance of tools aimed squarely at English-speaking legal frameworks, particularly those in the UK and the US, Sdu says.

In a Silicon Canals news report, Sdu’s CEO Sander de Groot remarked that perhaps the profession’s “greatest” fear was seeing a legal position destroyed by the opposition’s advancing of case law.

“A lawyer’s greatest fear is that the counterparty substantiates an argument in court with case law unknown to them, as a result of which their case collapses,” de Groot added.

Buying up its erstwhile partner should give Sdu more tools to prevent this, while also making it easier for clients to scan its existing legal sourcing software suite, which includes legal tools OpMatt, NDFR and Rechtsorder. Clients using Rechtsorder have had Bluetick-enabled search since last year, and the partners also propose to integrate visibility in other EU markets across Lefebvre Sarrut’s legal software offering.

For Bluetick, Sdu’s ownership elevates the state of play just three years into its growth journey. That’s especially impressive when you consider just a tiny fraction of legal judgements in the Netherlands are made public, reducing the sample size for its AI to work from.  Sdu says at present 4% of rulings find their way onto public channels, but with the open government agenda Dutch legal supremes have promised at least 75% will eventually be released into the public domain.

As a result, Bluetick will have far more contextual data. Support for tax lawsuits  — a routine enterprise battleground, but lucrative for the legal firm — could improve massively as more prior judgements become indexable. Sdu’s internal content database, containing many non-public sources, had made things a little easier already.

Ultimately the aim is for Bluetick to not only act as a search engine, but as more of a “personal assistant” to the legal profession, according to Aarns and de Groot who both lead the startup as co-CEOs.

Aarns added: “We believe technology is better at some tasks than people are. We implement this technology in existing products, so that lawyers can use it themselves.”