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A plea from Bob Ambrogi for more coverage of the legal tech industry:
What’s largely lacking … is a broader critical eye, looking not at specific products and apps, but at the companies behind them, the people behind those companies, and the industry overall.
Bob is right. The lack of coverage of legal tech companies (as opposed to legal tech products, which get plenty of coverage) is a problem for legal tech companies and lawyers.
Why Legal Tech Needs Greater Coverage
The lack of coverage is a problem for legal tech companies because legal tech companies sometimes struggle to recruit investors and talent. At CodeX I heard a number of legal tech startup CEOs talking about the difficulty of convincing top machine-learning scientists (for example) to work on legal projects. Legal tech is small and unsexy (and full of lawyers who don’t really care for your shiny new product and will take years of convincing and maybe regulatory restructuring to even consider it).
More buzz around legal tech companies could help reverse that trend. Maybe building a predictive-coding algorithm will never seem as sexy as building an AI chat bot for Facebook, but a little buzz could make a difference.
The lack of coverage is also a problem for lawyers and consumers. There is little or no scrutiny of the movers and shakers in the world of legal tech. Bob Ambrogi’s ongoing coverage of what looks increasingly like the implosion of QuickLegal is a case in point. Lawyers and consumers need to know whether to trust the companies they do business with, which takes reporting and analysis.
Well I’m not willing to turn Lawyerist into a legal tech industry gossip rag (Valleywag for legal tech), but we have been covering the legal tech industry for years. So I’m going to take Bob’s plea as a challenge to do more to cover the legal tech industry, as well as a prompt to organize our archives so our past legal tech industry coverage is easier to find. From now on, you can find our posts under the Legal Tech Industry News tag.1
Wait, What is Legal Tech, Anyway?
Good question. A lot of legal tech is happening at legal tech startups. There are lots of them, but for a long time we didn’t really have a good idea how many, since the only directory was on AngelList, and it had become lousy with spam and failed ventures. Then Bob Ambrogi started a list of his own. And Stanford recently launched its own legal tech startup directory.
Legal tech is also happening in other places. Legal hacking has become a loosely-organized movement of lawyers, coders, lawyer-coders, and others interested in developing novel solutions to legal problems.
Lots of legal tech is happening in small and large law firms all over the world, too, as law firms come up with technological solutions to their own problems. Maybe it’s not part of the legal tech industry, exactly, but the point is that legal innovation is coming from a lot of different places.
Sarah Glassmeyer even took a shot at mapping legal tech conceptually by identifying the various forms “NewLaw” takes:
Listing companies or categories are both exercises in futility, though. Legal tech is infiltrating just about everything about law and practice. New legal tech companies and projects start or stop just about every day. All we can do is keep an eye on the companies and trends that seem to be shaping the future of law and practice.
Stay tuned for more, or browse the Legal Tech Industry News archives to read our past coverage.
To start with, I tagged posts going back to 2014. I will go through the rest of our archives soon. ↩