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Client intake:

Seven best legal client onboarding KYC software in 2024

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The last thing you need is another software tool. But in 2024, they’re necessary for client onboarding.

AML screening options are the foundation of most compliance processes. But manual information checks are still required. Imagine an option that automates AML risk screening, grasps corporate structures, and conducts thorough background research.

In the fast-changing world of anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) requirements, law firms face rapidly evolving challenges. In-depth due diligence is crucial for avoiding financial crimes and protecting law firms’ reputations. But it can strain law firms’ resources and slow down the client onboarding process.

According to Thomson Reuters, 53% of lawyers agree their current onboarding process often falls short in providing sufficient information to make informed decisions about representing a client. The overwhelming amount of information available on the internet makes it impractical for client intake teams to read and analyse everything.

To tackle this, law firms are turning to technology to accelerate KYC and legal client intake processes. This software helps manage the competing demands of client intake by conducting thorough due diligence, making prompt decisions, and staying within budget.

But there’s a risk of software fatigue. After all, how many software tools allow you to truly know your customer, and how many just provide ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers? That’s why firms need the right, versatile solution. One that can automate repetitive and manual tasks, ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, and provide a thorough understanding of clients.

By eliminating manual research and data entry, law firms can redirect resources towards high-value activities like legal analysis and strategic decision-making. Automation allows firms to onboard clients and accept new business more quickly, while reducing the risk of human error.

Technology also streamlines internal processes, enhances collaboration among team members, and facilitates seamless information sharing. Ultimately, this boosts productivity and profitability. So, let’s take a look at the seven leading options.

1. Xapien

Stage: KYC research and analysis Visit

There are many software solutions available that cover essential compliance checks such as ID verification, politically exposed persons (PEPs) screening, sanctions, and watchlist checks. They provide straightforward answers to the question of “can I do business with this person?” 

But they don’t enable a deeper understanding of a client’s background and suitability.

Xapien does both. It provides automated, AI-backed PEPs, sanctions and watchlist screening. Then, it goes one step further to search the entire indexed web, looking at news and media articles, corporate records and wider internet data from sites such as LinkedIn, Wikileaks, offshore leaks, and more. Doing this uncovers affiliations, assets, family members and other crucial insights about a subject.

In minutes, it compiles a concise and comprehensive report, flagging risks and opportunities. Every piece of data is completely sourced, enabling informed decision-making that can be verified and is fully auditable.

Unlike other search tools, Xapien doesn’t present false positives that then need to be checked individually. There’s a name for it: disambiguation. Machine learning algorithms use advanced techniques to understand and make sense of data by creating complex networks of connections. It can then figure out the most accurate and trustworthy data.

This means firms no longer have to choose between spending large amounts of time on research, or risk of onboarding a client without truly knowing their background. Instead, they can confidently approve, or reject, a client knowing every relevant piece of publicly-available information on them. 

2. ComplyAdvantage

Stage: AML Screening Visit

ComplyAdvantage automates the early stage of compliance with AI-backed AML screening and ongoing monitoring through a real-time AML risk database. The database covers thousands of government regulations and law enforcement watchlists, international and national sanctions lists, and PEPs. Unlike many other databases, ComplyAdvantage uses automation to keep its lists auto-updated, allowing for rapid risk detection.

Everyday, tens of thousands of risk events from millions of structured and unstructured data points are added. ComplyAdvantage also offers transaction monitoring, payment screening, fraud monitoring, case management and enhanced PEP profiles, including relatives and close associates.

3. Thirdfort

Stage: IDV and AML checks Visit

Thirdfort’s platform was first created to help real estate agents and property firms comply with regulations and avoid fraud.

Today, it’s used in many industries. Thirdfort automates ID and anti-money laundering (AML) checks via an app, removing the need to manually verify new clients’ ID documents. By combining open banking technology, document verification, and facial recognition technology, compliance checks can be done quickly… and from anywhere.

4. Refinitiv WorldCheck

Stage: AML screening Visit

Refinitiv WorldCheck, formerly known as Thompson Reuters WorldCheck, is a risk intelligence database built with technology and human research. It’s considered a leading supplier of data in relation to PEP monitoring, AML screening and financial crime control.

Its researchers and analysts check watchlists, government records, and media sites and update the database daily. This information helps law firms meet regulatory obligations, make informed decisions, and avoid clients with links to financial crime or corrupt practices.

The data is structured, aggregated, and de-duplicated, allowing easy integration into in-house, cloud-based, or third-party workflow screening platforms.

The database covers a wide range of entities, including PEPs, close associates, family members, state-owned entities, global sanctions lists, narrative sanctions, global regulatory and law enforcement lists, negative media, and vessel information.

5. World Compliance by LexisNexis

Stage: AML screening Visit

World Compliance by LexisNexis is an online search tool with a focus on people and organisations that pose a potential AML risk. It performs a comprehensive analysis that includes an exact, proximal, phonetic, and cultural match with every search.

The tool goes beyond surface-level information by creating a relationship tree for each profile, providing insights into family members, contacts, and business associates. It can accommodate common spelling mistakes and transliteration spelling differences. Search outcomes are ranked based on their relevance and accuracy.

This helps law firms manage financial crime compliance regulations and conform to counter-terror- and AML laws. It has more than 5m structured profiles of individuals and entities and over 50 risk categories and subcategories, including global sanctions, enforcement actions, PEPs, state-owned enterprises, registration lists, and adverse media.

6. Dow Jones’ Risk Center

Stage: AML screening Visit

Dow Jones Risk & Compliance is a web-based AML screening service that curates information from publicly available sources, such as newspapers, government websites, and directories.  Multilingual researchers create the risk database according to the editorial standards of Dow Jones’ news businesses, including The Wall Street Journal. This information streamlines KYC and AML screening activities, making it easier to meet legal, regulatory, and risk management obligations.

The focus is on areas such as AML, counter-terrorism financing (CTF), sanctions compliance, bribery and corruption, fraud, and modern slavery. Its data feeds offer consolidated profiles of sanctioned entities updated as frequently as every six hours.

It also covers beneficial ownership, PEPs, their relatives, and close associates, sanctions (including coverage for the 50% rule), adverse media, and source of wealth. The subscription includes access to the Dow Jones WatchList, a regularly updated database of potential high-risk persons and entities.


The rule from OFAC, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, as well as the EU and UK, states that sanctions apply to companies that are at least 50% owned by individuals or entities under existing sanctions. For example, if two sanctioned individuals each own a 30% stake in a company, their combined ownership surpasses the 50% threshold, resulting in the company being sanctioned.

7. Intapp

Stage: AML screening and onboarding admin Visit 

Intapp offers professional services two key solutions to onboard customers.

The first, Intapp Risk & Compliance, helps law firms evaluate new business with advanced search and AI-enhanced conflicts review and monitoring. It integrates with internal and third-party data, and generates interactive reports. By providing a risk score, firms can structure deals based on risk and confidently accept new business.

Intapp Intake is a case management platform that streamlines management of the business-acceptance lifecycle. Each new case can be subjected to the same evaluation criteria and assessed against the firm’s business objectives. By ensuring consistency and improving accuracy of data, it improves efficiency, reduces risk and enforces compliance.

Closing thoughts

As you can see, there are many software solutions that help law firms screen clients for AML risks. And they all offer a different depth of research, as well as coming in at different price points. There’s just one problem. Many of these tools overlap, and still require further manual research from risk and compliance teams, which means the process isn’t entirely automated. 

But that’s not the case with Xapien.

Xapien does more than screen clients for AML risks… it enables law firms to truly know who their clients are by searching the entire indexed internet. It’s the only research tool law firms need to gain a thorough and nuanced understanding of their clients. And the best part? It’s incredibly easy to get started with. Book a call with the team today to learn more.

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Embrace speed, compliance, and reputation protection through the power of automation. Get in touch to speak to the team.

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