Updated: DocsCorp enters the Reynen Court Solutions Store: The rise of the marketplace

So, DocsCorp has entered the Reynen Court Solutions Store, becoming one of the largest vendors to do so, leading with compareDocs, which streamlines legal document comparison.

Aside from a raft of far smaller companies, including many startups, DocsCorp joins rival Litera (Transact) and NetDocuments on the ‘app store for legal’ platform.

Reynen Court is creating in effect a three-prong marketplace, in which law firms and corporate counsel can find, evaluate, test, and in some cases implement legal technology. The first prong is a fully-hosted environment in which end users can deploy the solution; the second gives users what is in effect a ‘try before you buy’ option; but for larger vendors, perhaps the most interesting offering is the Solutions Store, where DocsCorp is in effect dipping its toe into the Reynen Court world, and in doing so, advertising its services to law firms globally and – possibly, with a couple of huge caveats thrown in – enabling law firms to argue that they have vetted their supply chain.

To get into the Solutions Store vendors have go through security testing and, speaking to Legal IT Insider, DocsCorp’s director of partnerships, Joe Combs said: “The Solutions Store means that firms can see you have the right security, and they get assurances about the product without having to do a big infosec exercise each time.”

For DocsCorp, much of this first step is about visibility, and Combs says: “The strategy is the same as we use for legal publications: we try to be visible to the widest audience possible.”

He adds: “We’re looking forward to this visibility and seeing what else we can do in their hosted environment, where appropriate.”

DocsCorp was recently listed in Thomson Reuters’ marketplace and is looking at a couple of Bar Association marketplaces, with Combs commenting: “I think marketplaces are becoming more interesting as they expand.” Thomson Reuters Marketplace launched in November 2020 and provides an environment where users can test various solutions.

But there is no doubt that the prequalification vetting process is key. Combs says: “If you look at buying patterns and how they have shifted, the marketplace is becoming more important. People want to have some sort of prequalification and to know that the solutions have been pre-vetted.”

With law firms now having to take greater responsibility for ensuring the security of their supply chain in the wake of breaches such as Solar Winds, a debate to dive into more fully another time is whether law firms are able to fully discharge their obligations by using marketplace-vetted tech. Some vendors themselves argue no, but speaking to Legal IT Insider, Peter Wright, managing director of DigitalLawUK, said: “Being able to use a marketplace where the due diligence has already been carried out is a significant advantage. Firms need to be in a position to say, ‘We’ve gone above and beyond to comply with our obligations, and we have asked all the difficult questions.’ That’s what law firms are required to do by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which is looking for an active threat management programme, but very often law firms don’t know where to begin. A marketplace that ensures that providers are reputable and compliant from a regulatory perspective takes a lot of that burden away.”

However, striking a far more cautious note when it comes to relying on marketplaces in general, Christina Blacklaws, founder and managing director of Blacklaws Consulting and former president of the Law Society of England and Wales, warned: “This is what law firms are crying out for in terms of guidance and curation but they need to be incredibly careful about delegating their own responsibility, and for any product or service they are going to be using, they need to show that they’ve done their proper due diligence.”

She added: “I would certainly want to look at the due diligence that any marketplace has taken but I wouldn’t take it as read that it therefore set aside the obligations of a law firm and it’s important to ensure they are personally satisfied when it comes to supply chain and cyber risk.”

This should provide plenty of food for thought. But for larger vendors still scratching their heads over the value of Reynen Court, it is certainly no longer just an app store for startups.