5 things in LegalTech: Meet Legal’s “Rocket Man” and why are lawyers so expensive?

Your time is short. This quick read gives you 5 things you need to know from LegalTech in the past seven days.

1

Meet Legal’s “Rocket Man”

Tech it is disrupting the legal sector, but not quickly enough, according to Mark Edwards, senior vice-president and general manager, Rocket Lawyer UK. Founded nine years ago in the US by Charlie Moore and now established in the UK, France, Spain and the Netherlands, Rocket Lawyer provides online legal help to families and small businesses on a range of issues, from contracts and incorporation, to trademarks and divorce. Having been involved in the legal sector for 15 years, Edwards is somewhat frustrated by the pace at which it is adopting technology. “Some firms are using technology to improve efficiencies, but it hasn’t been adopted anywhere near enough,” he says. “I certainly don’t think the end customer has seen enough benefit from that change yet.”

2

Legal innovation – shaking the profession

Legal Futures reported that “Efficiency innovations implemented by in-house counsel at just five big companies – such as artificially intelligent (AI) contract review – have brought annual savings totaling more than half a million hours of lawyer time”. This finding and many others feature in LawGeex’s (free) eBook, The In-House Counsel’s Guide to Change Management (download now).

The innovation market is gaining momentum. LegalCheek’s Alex Wade, for instance, analyzed the unique success of Denton’s NextLaw Lab ventures – Marie Bernard Director of Innovation  at Dentons told the site, it is the “only firm that owns its own tech accelerator”, that has remarkably fostered 350 “ideas” and tech companies, including Ross Intelligence (legal research) Apperio (smart analytics) and Libryo ( updates and alerts on legal obligations in any jurisdiction). Meanwhile, in the ABA Journal, Mary Juetten  put the spotlight on the limited license legal technician as  important to the future of law: She writes: “With states consistently reporting that 80 percent of their citizens cannot afford an attorney for civil matters…It’s a national crisis, and the LLLT approach is an important piece of the solution.”

Finally, if Law gave out a Person of the Year, our nomination would be Joshua Browder, ending 2017 named by the FT as one of the “Top Ten Legal Innovators in North America“. Aged just 20, Joshua Browder has disrupted the legal industry even though he is not a lawyer. The computer science student created the DoNotPay “chatbot”, a bot to help people affected by the Equifax data breach and is now moving to other areas such as divorce law.

3

Why are lawyers so expensive? 

In a latest piece for Forbes, Mark Cohen asks ‘What’s a lawyer worth?’ He says “it is a serious question that could also launch a stand-up routine.” He argues that “Law has operated as a guild– not a competitive market—until recently. And that is the seminal reason why lawyers are so expensive.” Why is there such a marked divergence between what lawyers think they’re worth and what the rest of society does? Cohen looks at four factors (1) legal culture; (2) legal exceptionalism and the bespoke myth (3) self-regulation; (4) the incumbent legal delivery structure; and (5) the traditional legal economic and reward structures.”

4.

Biggest LegalTech stories of 2017

It was the last Legal IT Insider (aka the “Orange Rag”) of 2017 and the publication looked back on the stories the news site has broken over the last year. This included continuing funding for legal tech companies, CLOC- the U.S-headquartered Corporate Legal Operations Consortium rolling out in Europe; shakeups at the International Legal Technology Association ( ILTA), and the twists and turns of contract management solutions, NetDocuments “rivalry” with iManage”.

Meanwhile Sarah GlassMeyer posted her stories of the year, mostly culled from “the law blogging Godfather Bob Ambrogi”.  These include “Joshua Browder expanding his legal chat bot empire”; LexPredict open sourced ContraxSuite” and “Ravel acquired by Lexis”.

5.

More Deals and what are LegalTech exit strategies?

Continuing a run of legaltech deals  well into December, US Legal AI Company,  LegalSifter “Bags $1.86 Million VC Funding”, reported Artificial Lawyer. 

Meanwhile, legal expert Ron Friedmann, legal expert, asks  “What are Legal Tech and Legal Service Provider Exit strategies?  He argues: “LexisNexis (RELX) and Thomson Reuters frequently acquire other legal companies, usually as strategic buyers. We also see other occasional strategic buys by smaller companies, such as iManage’s acquisition of RAVN or Integreon’s acquisition of Allegory. Beyond that, I have a hard time generalizing. He continues: “I’m neither a deal maker nor an investment banker so perhaps I’m missing something key. So now I turn to readers. Do you think the question is important? “

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The Blurb: A curated mix of articles worth sharing in the past week.

From LawGeex:

LawGeex Launches Definitive In-House Counsel Guide to Change 

5 Reasons Innovation Will be so Hot for Lawyers in 2018 

Is the legal profession really slow to change? 5 lawyers (who have been through it) answer

From other sites

TechCrunch: Justin Kan’s Atrium is starting a boot camp to help founders raise money

Tom Braegelmann (LinkedIn): GC at Leverton  2017 Top LegalTech influencers you may want to follow right now 

Ross Intelligence: #LegalTechLives with Jordan Furlong, consultant, author and legal market analyst