Tuesday 23 July 2019 3:00 pm

City law firm Simmons & Simmons buys legal engineering startup to turbocharge Libor replacement

City law firm Simmons & Simmons today said it had acquired legal engineering firm Wavelength to help its clients on large projects such as the replacement of Libor.

Wavelength describes itself as the first regulated legal engineering business in the world.

Its chief executive Peter Lee said Wavelength applies data science, technology and design to law. 

Lee said this “allows it to find connections and deal with problems at a scale that hasn’t been feasible before. Classically that would be around big regulatory changes for financial services institutions or difficult questions that general counsel would be asked to solve.”

Simmons’ managing partner Jeremy Hoyland said: “The replacement of Libor is one such project. The scale of the contracts involved is enormous and without the skills Wavelength provide that sort of project is not possible.”

Read more: Bank of England calls ‘last orders’ on Libor as regulators push 2021 transition

The Libor benchmark is set to be retired by 2021 after a rate rigging scandal tarnished its reputation. This means that major financial institutions will have to transfer thousands of contracts to new benchmarks being introduced to replace it. 

Hoyland said Wavelength’s skills would also be offered to clients on day-to-day legal work.

“There will be big set-piece projects, but we also think there is a whole stream of opportunities with a wide range of clients in terms of their legal departments using Wavelength to improve their own management of data,” Hoyland said.

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Wavelength has been running for three years and has approximately 30 staff, including data specialists, technologists, designers and lawyers.

It is based in London, and at Barclays Eagle Lab in Cambridge, an incubator for startups in the technology and artificial intelligence sectors.

“We were the first members of Eagle Labs in their Cambridge office. That sort of ecosystem has been very helpful for us and that entrepreneurial mindset is great,” Lee said.

In the year to 30 April, Simmons increased revenue six per cent to £374m and boosted profit per equity partner four per cent to £710,000.

The price of the acquisition was not disclosed.