It’s been a scorching summer in many parts of the world. But oblivious to heady nights, tequila and sunburn, the world of LegalTech continued its momentum with major deals and talking points. Here are five things you need to know, and probably missed, over the summer.
Best ‘oh shit’ legalTech moments
Big Four professional services firm, EY, bought Riverview Law, a UK-based alternative legal service provider. In the words of Caroline Hill at Legal IT Insider, the decision represented an “’oh, shit’ moment for mainstream law.” Commentators unanimously agreed that this was a ”big deal.” EY global law leader, Cornelius Grossman, says the accountancy giant had not bought Riverview’s Kim Technologies but secured a long-term license agreement with Kim Technologies.
In other big summer signings, DocuSign, which recently debuted on the public market, bought contract management solution SpringCM for $220 million; AI contract due diligence player, Seal, bought Apogee Legal; and Aderant, a practice management software, expanded into eBilling with the acquisition of BillBlast. Meanwhile, LegalZoom scored a $500 million secondary investment (valuing the company at over $2 billion) and invested $1.8m in Australian legal tech company LawPath. Finally, UK-based automated legal spend analysis systems, Apperio, announced a $10 million (£7.5 million) Series A funding.
Best reports you missed
ALM Legal Intelligence produced a detailed analysis of how law firms are using AI (it costs $299 to purchase ). Erin Hichman, senior analyst at ALM Legal Intelligence, notes that “the majority of firms right now are within the investigation, pilot and initial adoption phases” particularly for e-discovery and contracts. In addition, another fantastic report emerged from Professor William Henderson looking at Online Delivery of Legal Services, commissioned and presented to the State Bar of California.
ILTACON happened. The four-day educational conference drew on the personal and collective strengths of professionals working in technology within law firms and legal departments. It began with the CEO resigning. But two key themes emerged according to Above the Law Editor, Joe Patrice. These were: the need for legal technology to offer analytics and what he calls “open architecture.” Richard Tromans of Artificial Lawyer noted that the conference represented an epoch when Legal AI Comes of Age. He writes that the audience of legal IT and innovation professionals asked practical questions (with little talk of robots taking jobs). These questions included: How do we sell this to the partnership? Is there a way of showing how much more profitable it is to automate part of the process? How much training should we expect to do to reach the desired level of accuracy with NLP? What’s the best way to do a pilot for an AI system and how much data is needed to set up a good test of doc review capabilities? In his words, “there was no hype, there was no ‘magical thinking’. This was more like a seasoned car buyer going to a showroom and grilling the salesperson about miles per gallon and what the warranty really offered to buyers.”
In other sessions, in-house lawyers revealed what they want from law firms including Starbucks (diversity) and RackSpace (not just tech-for-tech’s-sake, but a deep understanding of technology). Meanwhile, lawyers learned how a teenager can hack your firm.
Labor Day also marked the launch of the 2018 Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) Australia. The event comes as the legal operations movement is growing in Australia, despite smaller legal departments than in the US. Connie Brenton, CLOC chief executive officer and chief of staff, adds that there is a heightened focus on technology use in Australia, compared to legal departments in the U.S.
#CLOC2018AUS kicks off day 2! If you're in #LegalOps, you really need to be at the Westin Sydney! #LegalTech! pic.twitter.com/yo6wJbk7fD
— CLOC (@cloc_org) September 3, 2018
Best summer innovation
Lawyer and journalist, Mark Cohen in Forbes, writes that “Legal Innovation is the Rage, But There’s Plenty of Resistance.” He notes that “a cultural war is being waged between lawyers and the broader legal industry. Many lawyers have difficulty acknowledging-much less embracing- their industry consists of lawyers and technologists, process/ project managers, entrepreneurs, financiers, operations managers, data analytics professionals, paraprofessionals, and machines.”
However, there was nevertheless some interesting innovation over the summer. In Australia, players in science, tech, and law joined forces to launch a blockchain platform for legal contracts, including IBM and law firm Herbert Smith Freehills. Will this lead to lawyer job losses? Author Anthony Stevens, writing in The Australian, says not. Taking a different approach to innovation, Wilson Sonsini is offering “$100K+ For Employees Who Can Convince Old Partners To Use Tech (Above The Law)” Meanwhile, The Lawyer reports that Clifford Chance has launched a tech-focused training contract that will lead to qualification as a solicitor at the end. Addleshaw Goddard has got in on the act too: it will offer trainees six-month seats in its in-house innovation and legal technology team.
Best legal OOO of the summer
Finally, putting your out of office message to signal the start of your vacation, has emerged less of a last-minute chore, and more of an art form to be celebrated. The best summer out of office we have seen came via legal counsel, Tomy Lee at Buderus Steel. We were delighted to see the following when we sent him an email.
deprived I will be of the joys,
to protect you from harm and ploys,
to elsewhere seek replenishment,
outside the work environment.
This is to be accomplished within 14 days,
and to accomplish this I see no other ways,
so please be patient and ask yourself why,
can matters not wait until 30th of July.