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LexisNexis Acquires Ravel Law

June 8, 2017, 4:01 AM

LexisNexis announced Thursday that it has acquired Ravel Law, a legal analytics company perhaps best known for striking a deal to digitize Harvard Law School’s library.

Terms of the acquisition, including price, were not disclosed in the press release .

“I view this not as a finish line but as a more of a next step,” said Daniel Lewis, a co-founder of Ravel Law, about the acquisition.

He said Ravel Law and its team of about 20 people will continue to operate from the same San Francisco office where it has been based, and that its legal research product will be integrated into Lexis’ main legal research tools. Lewis said Lexis appealed to him because its customer base means Ravel’s product will reach millions of people.

Lewis said Lexis has asked the entire staff to stay on, but that his exact responsibilities were still being worked out.

Founded in 2012 by two Stanford Law School alumni, Daniel Lewis and Nik Reed, the company grew out of Stanford’s Center for Legal informatics, also known as Code X, which works on legal technology issues. The company became known as a legal research tool, offering visual maps of case law, and other analytical tools such as how judges reacted to certain case law arguments.

Ravel Law has been privately held and has not disclosed its annual revenue, but has said that it raised $14 million in funding led by X Fund, as well asNew Enterprise Associates, North Bridge Venture Partners, Ulu Ventures, Experiment Fund, and Work-Bench.

In October 2015, Ravel struck a deal to scan and digitize Harvard Law School’s library, a collection that contained approximately 40,000 bookswith 40 million pages of court decisions at a cost of millions of dollars and is taking years to complete. In exchange, Ravel agreed to eventually make the documents available for free in a searchable format on its website. Initially, the documents will be available only to non-profits and scholars, but after a period the company will make it available to commerical groups as well.

It plans to make money by offering advanced analytics on its body of case law for a fee, and has said it will continue to honor the terms of its agreement with Harvard.

LexisNexis, which provides business research and risk management services outside its legal research offerings, is a competitor of Bloomberg Law, which is owned by Bloomberg BNA, the publisher of Big Law Business.

Rumors of the deal had beencirculating for weeks on sites such as Dewey B Strategic, where Jean O’Grady, who handles knowledge management at DLA Piper and also sits on an advisory board at Ravel Law, is a contributor.

O’Grady wrote in March that she was concerned because Lexis does has not integrated other products it had purchased in the past, such as Lex Machina, a litigation analytics platform it acquired in late 2015.

“I understand wanting to keep the revenue from all of the legacy products but there is no evidence of an intent to integrate the products into a more powerful LexisNexis platform,” she wrote.

O’Grady was not immediately available for comment.

Patrick Chung, a Ravel Law board member whose X Fund was the lead investor, praised the deal, saying it will bring “innovation” to LexisNexis.

“As someone who used West and Lexis, and is now a venture capitalist, this is something that really gets me,” said Chung, “you’re taking a piece of DNA that Lexis has never really had, and which will hopefully start to germinate in the heart of this organization.”

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