Posted on January 8, 2018
5 things in LegalTech: First Deals of 2018 and Coding The Law
Your time is short. This quick read gives you 5 things you need to know from LegalTech in the past seven days.
First LegalTech Deals of 2018
2018 began as the last year ended—with deals. Contract management platform, Concord announced the closing of $10 million Series A funding. The round was led by Charles River Ventures, as Concord seeks to gain further market share in the $5.5 billion contract management market. The company boasts 100,000 users including Just Eat, Crédit Mutuel, and Stanford University.
Read also: UK mid-market investor Tenzing buys into Converge TS. Converge TS, the Daresbury-headquartered provider of cloud computing services for law firms, has secured private equity investment to support its growth ambitions.
The big Tech-Law School Debate
There was debate about how much technology, and what sort of tech syllabus, should be taught at Law School. Harvard Law School got things rolling as they began hosting special programs focused on the future of the law. Christopher T. Bavitz, Managing Director of Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, said: “The gist of this is to talk about what we want to be teaching as law teachers to law students about tech.” The answers flooded in.
Q: What should law schools teach about legal tech?
Only few teach anything at all about legal tech. So ANY teaching on this game-changing subject will be a leap forward. @GTeninbaum @wihender
Happy 2018! The year of legal tech convergence. (My prediction FWIW) https://t.co/cTZcYUnXtd
— Lucy Bassli (@lucybassli) January 2, 2018
Meanwhile, some law schools are ahead of the curve. David Colarusso, Director of Suffolk University Law School’s Legal Innovation and Technology Lab, showcased student work from his “Coding The Law” class. The assignments included 1) Create a “chatbot” to determine if someone is eligible for appointed counsel, fee waivers; 2) Create a bot that monitors information on the Web and tweets in response to changes in that information; 3) Create and evaluate a machine learning model using one of the algorithms discussed in class; and 4) Finally, partner with an external party to create a technical solution solving a real-world problem.
The first semester of my Coding The Law class is a wrap. Here's a peek at some of the student projects, including working code and notes. https://t.co/2ZAyisfJxX They did great work. #LegalTech pic.twitter.com/pXB5a6Nekq
— (((David Colarusso))) (@Colarusso) December 31, 2017
See also: A Primer on Using Artificial Intelligence in the Legal Profession. LawGeex Director of Legal Content, Harvard Law School graduate Lauri Donahue, writes for the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology.
40 Legal Practice areas that didn’t exist 15 years ago
Interesting: "For 2018, make it your resolution to learn something about…new practice areas" from @NxtGenEnergyLaw https://t.co/A6fLJokDjl
— Douglas W. Lytle (@dlinsd) January 3, 2018
Helping prove the point that things are changing, Carolyn Elefant, writing for My Shingle, says: “Despite the loss of legal jobs over the past decade, there are also at least 40 legal practice areas that didn’t exist 15 years ago that will keep lawyers busy for years to come.” Nearly half of the new practice areas have evolved out of legislative and social change. She adds that some are so complex (3D printing, Blockchain, Internet of Things, to name a few), “they require technical expertise and support to fully understand.” She concludes, “Thus, it’s a common trend for firms dealing with these issues to have in-house expertise – either through their own background (e.g., programmer-turned-lawyer) or in-house information officers or software engineers.”
LegalTech (innovation) thoughts of the Week
Not just one, but two Heads of Law Firm innovation, give their thoughts on what to expect in 2018 in interviews in Legal IT Insider (aka The Orange Rag). Dentons’ first-ever global Chief Innovation Officer, John Fernandez, says: “We’re only early days in fully appreciating the enormous potential for delivering services not just cheaper but better.” Meanwhile, Derek Southall, head of innovation and digital at GowlingWLG says: “The future will be more about strategic advice, decentralized management, managing third party experts and partnering.” In Prism Legal, Ron Friedmann is even more direct: “My 2018 prediction for the Legal market is as much edict as prediction: lawyers must change how they work.” He continues: “Beyond AI and innovation, many approaches with less PR sizzle arguably have more impact short term. Specifically, firms can do more and better knowledge management (KM), legal project management (LPM), practice technologies, and process improvement.”
How to adopt LegalTech like a pro
In Corporate Counsel, Caroline Spiezio provides 5 points of focus for in-house lawyers. On top of other pointers (reassessing company culture, M&A scoping and retaining talent), she also advises to “Use Tech Tools to Cut Costs and Spot Trouble Early” and “Know When to Turn Off the Tech”. Susan Hackett, CEO of Legal Executive Leadership, a law practice management consultancy, says while tech is crucial, it is also ” important to know when to speak face to face about an important issue, rather than sending an email.” She’s seen some in-house leaders push for a tech detox to keep counsel from feeling constantly overwhelmed and to allow them to focus on the task at hand rather than on distractions (even business-related ones) online. She’s seen some GCs block off certain times of the day to read and respond to emails. The rest of the day, they’re focused on other issues.
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The Blurb: A curated mix of articles worth sharing in the past week.
From other sites:
LegalTech News: Many Businesses Are Expected to Move Forward With Machine Learning in 2018
Ross Intelligence: The over and underestimation of AI and law