What is going on in Legal Tech?

Legal tech is at the top of the agenda all over the legal world, but how far have we really come? In order to give you some more insights of the current status, we have here put together some interesting articles.

One way to analyse the status is by looking at the maturity of different techniques. Gartner has recently published its annual hype cycle report for legal tech and compliance products for 2021, which has been commented in the following article: “Gartner Legal Tech Hype Cycle 2021 – Some Thoughts”

The Big Four are investing heavily in the legal sector but have updated their strategy compared to when they tried to launch “alternative law firms” some years ago. Now they focus more on solutions and how to combine processes and technology to deliver services that can support companies running their business. In a future more diversified sector of legal services, they could become an important player working parallel to traditional law firms. Se further comments about this trend here: “The Big Four Legal Arms Are Growing, But Don’t Panic”

With a more diversified sector of legal services, more focus has moved to the buyer of these legal services. In-house counsels are seen as important drivers for change in this sector. Therefore, it feels apt that Financial Time has a special report about General Counsels (see “FT General Counsel”). This enforced focus on in-house counsels has also gained attention from software companies, to the extent that in-house legal departments have started to complain about software vendors aggressive sales pitches, as is reported in this article: “Aggressive and Demeaning Some In-house Departments Aren’t Happy With Recent Tech Sales Pitches”

In spite of all digitalisation initiatives, we cannot really see changes in the delivery of legal service (except for some minor solutions that has not really affected the market). Lawyers are still not really changing their working behaviour. Here is a very informative article about why lawyers are lagging behind and with the conclusion that we need to focus our projects much more on improved productivity: “Explaining the joke: lawyers lagging behind”

A general problem in the sector seems to be the difficulty in driving these tech projects. Both law firms and in-house counsels are investing heavily in tech tools but these projects are often over-promised and under-delivered. Here is an interesting article describing some of these difficulties: “Platform (r)evolution: how the convergence of talent and technology will reshape service organizations”

Some quotes from the article ought to be highlighted:

“It is imperative that firms understand current tools, capabilities, and untapped potential before adding more now and integrating later. I strongly believe that most firms have most of the technology they need to operate and service clients efficiently and effectively. The tech just isn’t being used to its fullest potential by the teams and teammates that work with it.”

“If your human teammates struggle to delegate work to each other, there is zero chance they will delegate to a technology teammate.”

“Bad technology choices, like bad hiring decisions, can result in problems like malware: bad actors that damage an environment or infect other parts of the ecosystem. Whether it’s a bad egg or a bad fit, this requires intervention and possible termination”

If we focus more on what we want to achieve with the solution, and have a more customer-oriented approach in the development of such solution, we might be able to truly change the way legal is delivered. Maybe this means we would be able to build something that initially looks more like a toy, but in the end could disrupt the legal scene? At least that’s what is argued in this interesting article: “The next big thing will start out looking like a toy”

If you want some updates about the legal tech scene, you should attend the online conference “ELTACON 2021: Legal Tech & Innovation – from Chan(g)e to Chan(c)e” on 29 November to 2 December. The event is free for all ELTA members. If you have any questions regarding ELTA, do not hesitate to contact VQ Co-founder Helena Hallgarn who is Vice President and Ambassador of ELTA!