A quick note: the Fringe Legal tech stack will change over the next couple of weeks, including the provider we use to send emails. I'll share more closer to the time.
What's hot in 2021
Caroline Hill, of Legal IT Insider fame, shared slides from a recent presentation along with a write-up on what's hot and not in legal tech. The full article is worth a read, but here's my commentary on the highlights:
MSFT dominated half of the piece, and for good reasons. Microsoft seems to have woken up to the legal profession (for a price 💲). Firms are particularly interested in O365 and cloud strategy, and Teams being exceptional in serving internal and external collaboration needs.
Integrations, e.g., where firms don't want to utilize Sharepoint, is an area that needs development.
I and others have been singing this tune for some time; law firms and legal teams don't want bazillion point solutions. Platforms reduce friction by providing capabilities for a full workflow.
Litera (disclaimer: this is my day job), Access Group, Practice Evolve, and Advanced Legal were specifically named.
Marketplaces that assist with procurement (LexFusion) or technology implementation (Reynen Court) are on the rise.
Marketplaces are fascinating businesses. To succeed, one needs a solid understanding of the problem(s) that exist between buyers and sellers. There are advantages for the owners of the marketplace - they are cheaper (vs. developing your own products), limit the risk (you're connecting the buyer to the seller), and allow them to win with a wide array of solutions.
LexFusion and Reynen Court are relatively new, but they have great teams and have secured some early wins.
Tech led services by law firms
I think this is a natural extension for firms that can capitalize on the opportunity to leverage technology to package their service offerings as a product. Through this, they can offer additional value to their clients and create a new (sometimes more predictable) revenue stream for the business.
Allen & Overy, Reed Smith, and Clifford Chance were specifically called out.
Related: listen to my conversation with Laura Collins Scott during her tenure at Clifford Chance's Create+65 Innovation Lab and Elani Buchan of MDR Lab.
As an aside, I disagree with Caroline's note stating, "KM has become the cool kid on the block." I believe KM has been the cool kid on the block for several years, and the outlook continues to improve.
Ultimately, none of the above matters if we can excite the users, which remains a core problem to solve. I support this sentiment from Caroline wholeheartedly:
One thing that we can definitely say is that the pandemic has further elevated the status of technology beyond law firm techies wildest dreams, but firms continue to have many challenges around the delivery of that and lawyers remain in many cases averse to working in new ways, despite all the rhetoric. Now really is the time to encourage legal professionals to be competent in tech not just in talking about it.
Investment in Legal is surging
Investment in legal technology companies continues to increase. We've seen several IPOs, and funding continues in various forms.
Data from Legalcomplex (via Caroline's article cited above) notes that $4.16bn has been raised in 2021 across 178 deals as of August.
Crunchbase reports that $1bn+ has been raised via Venture Capital.
What's interesting is that more commonly recognizable brands have started writing cheques. A recent example: MarqVision raised $5M led by SoftBank Ventures Asia, and ContractPodAi raised $115M Series C led by Softbank Vision Fund.
Do you suffer from email urgency bias?
The Journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes recently published a study that coined the term "email urgency bias."
Their findings suggest that emails feel more urgent for receivers than senders and have higher experienced stress. As many firms grapple with working from home, and law firms are generally shunned for having an "always-on" culture, it's important to keep this in mind.
The solution is simple, be explicit in your response speed expectation. Adding a note in the first line of the email/Teams/Slack message noting "for response tomorrow" is all it takes.
How did you like this article?