Posted on December 27, 2017
5 things in LegalTech: Taking stock of 2017 & Best of the Big Predictions
Your time is short. This quick read gives you 5 things you need to know from LegalTech in the past seven days.
Taking stock: LegalTech 2017
The number of LegalTech companies grew in 2017. Legal blogger Bob Ambrogi announced 23 additions to his list of LegalTech startups, bringing his list to 691 entries (The Stanford CodeX Center for Legal Informatics lists 770 in its database). Either way the rapid rise of new players has been a feature of 2017. The new startups added to the list include the highest-voted winner of the 2018 ABA TECHSHOW Startup Alley Competition, Book-It-Legal, “connecting attorneys with law students for per-project legal tasks”. In LegalTech News (“2017:The Year Legal Tech Grew Up“) Jake Heller, CEO of AI research company, Casetext, says 2017 was distinguished by AI, automation, Law Firm Investment in Legal Tech, Legal Analytics, E-Discovery Consolidation, and Law Firm Consolidation.
In Above The Law, Zach Abramowitz adds that another sign of LegalTech company maturity at the dawn of 2018 is the level of hires. He argues: “Hires don’t have the eye-grabbing attention of funding rounds or acquisitions, but they’re an important way to assess where an industry is headed.” These include Doug Hebenthal, Chief Technology Officer, Axiom, Alma Asay, Chief Innovation Officer, Integreon, Scott Sperling, VP of Sales at ROSS Intelligence, and Margo Smith, Chief Legal Officer, Apttus (though not entirely LegalTech, Apttus’s contract lifecycle management solution is designed to overhaul how sales and legal interact).
Innovation and technology are driving big change in the law, not from the large players, but from small entrepreneurs. Here’s 23 additions to @bobambrogi’s list of legal startups, bringing the list to 691 entries. https://t.co/c1joOXx9bl pic.twitter.com/V1t4DM5Pp0
— Kevin O'Keefe (@kevinokeefe) December 23, 2017
Best of the Big 2018 Predictions
“It’s that time of year again, and predictions for 2018 are everywhere” writes Mary E. Juetten, founder of Traklight and Evolve Law. Her aspiration is that 2018 will be the year we “will move the needle on access to justice”. Other choice predictions for 2018 came via Artificial Lawyer, soliciting the opinions of the leading names in law. These include more news about wider Machine Learning applicability and smart contracts (Nick West at Mishcon De Reya); “wicked problems AI is enlisted to help solve” (Mark Cohen, Legal Mosaic); qualitative and quantitative data (Dr Lewis Liu, Eigen Technologies); more evidence that AI can do some legal tasks better than lawyers (Noory Bechor, LawGeex).
Thanks again to everyone who contributed to this, it's already one of the most read articles of the month.
>>> You are all legal tech stars! https://t.co/DPxjYtZkHt
— Richard Tromans (@ArtificialLawya) December 21, 2017
DocuSign acquires machine learning startup
Squeezing in some more acquisition activity, Silicon Angle reported that E-signature giant, DocuSign, has acquired Appuri for its machine learning expertise, for an undisclosed amount. DocuSign agreed a deal to buy the technology assets and hire most of the staff from the startup. It follows a late raft of activity in the past two months, including funding for DoNot Pay, and Heretik
Final 2017 thoughts from in-house
Something very close to our heart at LawGeex is “getting rid of the perception of Legal as the place where deals go to die” in the words of Sterling Miller, GC at Marketo. One of the best legal blog posts of any year comes at the end of 2017. In a detailed piece, Miller provides 10 pieces of advice (plus plenty of anecdotes and color) for in-house teams to make Legal The Department of Yes. This includes “Legal Doesn’t Run the Business”, to “Don’t sweat the small Stuff” and “Be Available”.
Taking a different theme, Bjarne Philip Tellmann, GC and Chief Legal Officer at Pearson, tackles The Rise Of Legal Procurement. One salient piece of advice for a new year: “Any GC who presides over a significant legal budget is failing to do her job if she does not involve procurement experts in her purchasing decisions.”
Meanwhile it is once more unto the bullshit, as Casey Flaherty, lawyer-turned-consultant, provides his take on law departments (Law Departments and the Foundation of Law Firm Marketing Bullshit).
Final 2017 thoughts from law firms
Hoi Tak Leung of Ashurst’s Digital Economy team provides a “whirlwind tour of technology and the law” for lawyers in a much-shared LinkedIn post. His insights include the full range of topics lawyers need to know about technology (he lists more than 20 themes as a start) and setting limits on expertise for lawyers like himself. He says that “what technology lawyers should strive for — and what the market is increasingly asking technology lawyers to be – is to advise on any issues where technology and the law intersects. Increasingly, achieving that means assembling a cross-sector, multi-disciplinary team.” Tak says the phrase TMT lawyer is “antiquated” (hence Ashurst’s team being called Digital Economy and TMT). He provides updates on Ashurst’s Advance initiative “focusing on how we can best help clients through efficient resourcing, effective processes and legal tech”. This includes document automation, automated reviews, more effective contract management and alignment of the right people with the right tasks.”
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