Joe Milstone and Rubsun Ho were two overworked lawyers at major law firms — at some point, both were vice president of legal at their respective firms — who wondered how they could continue doing what they were passionate about without the 100-hour work weeks. They loved helping businesses solve their legal problems and help their legal departments flourish, so they decided to start fresh.
“We’ve both made it our mission to rid the legal world of inefficiencies.” – Joe Milstone, co-founder of Cognition
The pair founded Toronto-based Cognition LLP, knowing that accessing traditional law firms and full-time, in-house legal counsel was too expensive an option for startups. Cognition LLP offers client work for startups and larger businesses without the overhead costs of traditional firms, and their lean law firm model has gotten noticed by New York legal services provider Axiom, which is acquiring its general counsel business.
Axiom uses legal tech and data analytics when working with clients, and says that this allows the firm to reduce risk and cost. Currently, it employs 1,500 lawyers, professionals, and process engineers to work with Fortune 100 companies across 16 offices and five centres of excellence.
“Boasting a portfolio of almost 50 lawyers and a client roster that includes 60 leading global corporations, Cognition has been the undisputed ‘new law’ leader in Canada since its inception ten years ago,” said Will McKinnon, SVP of new market development at Axiom. “The ability to build on Cognition’s reputation and standing in the market validated our means of entry into the region. Indeed, the acquisition will give Axiom not only an immediate team of highly skilled and credentialed lawyers, but introduction to Canada’s most progressive and influential General Counsel, with whom Cognition already has trusted and long-standing relationships.”
As part of the deal, Cognition LLP will separate into two distinct entities: Axiom Cognition, an Axiom corporation serving corporate clients with in-house legal departments; and Caravel Law, a law firm serving small and medium-sized enterprises without internal legal departments. The Toronto office will be Axiom’s 6th international office.
Milstone said that the acquisition is fitting, as Axiom CEO Mark Harris had a similar vision as Cognition when founding his firm. Both set to alleviate inefficiencies in the opaque legal market by leveraging emerging technology to disrupt the traditional legal model.
“As law firm associates, Mark Harris and I both had separate, but similar, ‘a-ha’ moments in realizing the extreme inefficiencies at work in a traditional law firm environment,” said Joe Milstone, Co-Founder of Cognition. “Since then, we’ve both made it our mission to rid the legal world of those inefficiencies. For years now, Axiom and Cognition have been collaborating on cross-border work. That collaboration led us both to another — this time, shared — ‘a-ha’ moment about formalizing our partnership. We’re thrilled to now officially be a part of Axiom’s mission to modernize the legal industry, both here in Canada and globally.”