Posted on January 16, 2018
5 things in LegalTech: Avvo Bought+The Kodak Moment for Law
Your time is short. This quick read gives you 5 things you need to know from LegalTech in the past seven days.
Legal directory site Avvo has been acquired by Internet Brands — one of the world’s largest operators of websites, including Nolo, Lawyers.com, and Martindale-Hubbell While terms of the deal were not disclosed, Avvo CEO Mark Britton told GeekWire that they received “a big, fair price” for the company. Britton, the former general counsel at Expedia, also compared the deal to the historic relationship between Expedia and holding company IAC. In the early 2000s, IAC owned Expedia and a number of other travel-oriented brands. Avvo raised $71.5 million in venture funding three years ago, when Bloomberg News pegged the company’s valuation at about $650 million. Dan Lear, Director of Industry Relations at Avvo says the company will stick to its mission to “change the way lawyers do business.”
Excited to announce that @Avvo has decided to join forces with Internet Brands (@martindalenolo & others). Excited to keep helping change the way lawyers do business with a whole new set of partners! https://t.co/dTOpdDqzgl
— Dan Lear (@rightbrainlaw) January 11, 2018
More investment and Consolidation
Consolidation continued as legal research platform, Fastcase announced that it has acquired Docket Alarm, a company that mines federal and state court dockets to provide litigation alerts and case-prediction analytics. Former lawyer, Michael Sander, created Docket Alarm, providing legal search, analytics and litigation alerts for the United States court system.
Not to be outdone, Apttus received undisclosed investment from IBM which joined multiple investors in the company’s Series E funding. The contract life cycle management solution, partly designed to overhaul how sales and legal interact, will use this investment to further its plan to deliver AI-based business solutions.
The “Kodak” Moment for Law firms
The 2018 Report On The State Of The Legal Market (by George Town Law and the Legal Executive Institute) is out, and the verdict is not great for law firms. In The Global Post, Wayne Ramsay, Chief Strategy Officer at Exigent said: “A bit like Kodak in the race to digital photography, law firms cling on to the comforting old ways of the billable hour, worried innovation will cannibalize their source of revenues.”
Ken Grady, who writes on people, processes and technology in law, provides a similar damning verdict. He says: “This is an industry that peaked and will not return to any semblance of former financial glory.” Looking at the failure of some lawyers to take action-including on technology, he says: “You sacrifice your future when you can’t talk the talk of senior executives and play a strategic role at the top and throughout an organization.” Ron Friedmann, in Prism Legal adds: “These findings differ little from last year. Perhaps I am projecting, but I detect a sense of desperation in the report that law firms have yet to change how they work.”
In The Recorder, report author James Jones says: “I think that law firms can have a real competitive advantage and be significantly successful if they will only do some of this basic stuff.” Justin G. Castillo, Head of Legal at BT Americas, argued there is now more alternatives to law firms and with the exception of high-value work (high-value M&A and Litigation), General Counsel can handle work previously handled by law firms using LegalTech and LPOs”.
Take-away from report on state of law firms from @LegalExecutives & @GeorgetownLaw:
*More alternatives to law firms;
*W/ exceptions (high-value M&A/litigation), #GeneralCounsel can handle work previously handled by law firms using #legaltech, LPOs, etc.https://t.co/nPBO8IBldc
— Justin G. Castillo (@telecomattorney) January 11, 2018
Big Four Knocking on Law’s Door
Further disruption news is reported in The American Lawyer where Roy Strom reports that Deloitte announced it would be the last of the Big Four to effectively launch a law firm in the U.K, with an alternative business services license. In the Financial Times, Deloitte also signaled their intention to invest in AI as they seek to win market share for basic legal work from traditional law firms.
LegalWeek: New York ‘Fringe’ events create buzz
LegalWeek (January 29 to February 1) is the first Legal Super conference in 2018. The conference boasts 9000 attendees and headline speakers, Jeh Johnson, former U.S Secretary of Homeland Security; and Brian Kerbs, Cyber Security Blogger and Former Reporter for The Washington Post. But events on the fringe of the event are creating a buzz. LawGeex saw tickets to its inaugural GC Tech Masters Summit (29 January 2018, New York City) sell out only three hours after tickets were announced. The LawGeex GC TechMasters Session meanwhile includes top legal names from Microsoft, eBay, Bain & Company and White & Case. The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium is also hosting a CLOC NY Regional meet up at the end of January, discussing Legal Operations and LegalTech at Google.
Calling all NY Based #LegalOps Professionals! @maryshenocarro1 will be hosting the CLOC NY Reg Group, end of month. Subject: #LegalOps and #LegalTech at Google Legal. Join CLOC and the NY regional group to get on the invitation list. Hope to see you there! #legalops #cloc2018 pic.twitter.com/HsSE6eXwmm
— CLOC (@cloc_org) January 13, 2018
Blockchain & Legal Flings
Artificial Lawyer’s Richard Tromans reports that Dutch legal tech group, LegalThings has launched a blockchain-based contract system called ‘Legal Fling’ designed to allow people to record their agreement to consensual behavior in the bedroom, but without having to produce a pen and paper in the middle of a romantic moment. Tromans points out, the overall goal is to draw attention to a new type of contract that exploits the blockchain’s ability to store key information indefinitely. Meanwhile if you are rusty on your blockchain, Dean Sonderegger, writes a primer in Above The Law (Blockchain: The Unchangeable Game Changer). He argues: “The technology’s core function is to record transactions, a practice that is fundamental to how modern economies function — from real estate titles to M&A filings to your personal checkbook. That is why the technology’s applications have the potential to go far beyond finance.”
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