New developments continue to drive innovation for law firms
These days, many new tech companies are attempting to serve different legal practice areas. It can be challenging to pinpoint which technologies will work for you and your area of law. So, I would like to offer suggestions for a few of the trends in legal tech for different areas of law that have received the most investment and interest from third-party observers.
- Be the change you want to see. Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is an important topic that embraces respect for equality and diversity and affects all workplaces, including the legal and corporate world. EDI is changing the modern workplace, but how much real change is occurring is unclear. Without empirical data from law firms and legal departments that can quantify equity, diversity and inclusion, it is difficult to determine what EDI looks like and how it changes the workplace.
JusticeBid believes they can do something to tackle the lack of EDI data using technology. The tool assists corporate law departments by handling the weight of data collection and tracking and analyzing that data. Law firms can use the platform for free and proactively share their EDI data with their clients instead of completing a myriad of client surveys. JusticeBid says this gives law firms freedom over their data, benchmarking with other law firms, and time to do what they do best: practising law.
- Legal tech is no longer on the fringes. Many prominent venture capitalists are now interested in legal tech, with new funds established to invest solely in legal tech space. As a result, there have been significant investments in legal tech, such as:
- $108 M in Filevine (case management software),
- $100M in IronClad (contract lifecycle management software),
- $100M LinkSquares (AI-enabled contract management and analysis software), and
- $30M in FreeWill (an estate management platform).
Why is this significant? Firstly, not too long ago, it was challenging to get funding for legal tech, and the level of investment in legal tech was low: i.e., below $10M. Secondly, with the level of investment, we can expect to see significant maturity and improvement in legal tech offerings. Thirdly, significant investments are usually coupled with many smaller, early seed investments, which is what we currently see in the space. With these changes, we can expect to see investment in various new and innovative technologies, opening the door to new software service offerings for lawyers.
- Legal process automation. Legal process automation software automates a legal process or workflow. For example, you may want to have an intake form in a contract process. Depending on the input of the intake form, it may generate an agreement or an email notification to a person to approve the contract. In the past, if you wanted to automate these processes, you would have to retain a programmer. Several companies are now designing platforms to help law firms or legal departments implement their approach in a no-code or low-code environment.
Earlier this year, I wrote about no-code or low-code automation solutions. Since then, there has been an explosion of new legal tech entrants who deliver no-code process automation solutions. Some notable entrants are Malbeck (contract automation and workflow automation), Tonkean (no-code process automation), and ServiceNow (digital workflow for enterprise operations that has a legal offering). We should expect more of these developments in the future.
Usually, these solutions have a graphical user interface with dropdowns or flowcharting functionality. An intake form might be one block in a flow chart in a contract process, and then an email notification may be another node in the flow chart. In this way, lawyers can configure the software to their particular process or workflow. The reality is that some of these solutions will say they are a no-code solution and not live up to that promise, while others will be a proper no-code solution. The only way to find out what will work for you is to try it out.
There are now many trends and solutions in legal tech to assist legal firms in their work. These new technologies can significantly help firms find efficient, cost-effective technology. If your firm has not yet considered these tools, it is beneficial to start investigating – or risk being left behind.
Monica Goyal will be speaking on the “LegalTech Outlook: What’s New and On the Horizon for 2022 and Beyond” panel at The LegalTech Summit Canada on June 15.