Australia is a small but sophisticated legal market. This makes it perfect for development and testing of an idea. It is less ideal for establishing a community of LegalTech companies.
In early 2017, it became apparent that the Australian LegalTech industry was starting to flourish. Like many other parts of the world, start-ups were bringing their software to market, testing the appetite of the legal industry, and moving beyond ‘idea’ to ‘product’.
We won’t overstate this – at the very first meeting of LegalTech companies at a Sydney bar in February 2017 there were just 8 slightly weary looking founders, each with their sleeves rolled up and a determined belief that they had something innovative that would change the legal industry – if only the lawyers would listen! There was an immediate meeting of the minds, with enthusiastic discussions around the legal industry, funding, building technical teams and the frustrations of Australia’s internet speed.
Soon there were 10, 12, 15, 20 LegalTech companies coming along to drinks and then in January 2018 the Australian Legal Technology Association was officially born and held the first ALTA Demo Day events in Sydney and Melbourne last week. In keeping with our collective determination not to overthink format or delivery, we went for something raw:
Want to see what Australian LegalTech has to offer?
Want to see innovation first hand?
Want to know which technology is useful to you?
The Australian legal community was invited to see 6 minute technology demonstrations in rapid succession over 3 hours.
Speed dating. Innovation overload. Make your eyes pop and your head explode.
The response was overwhelmingly positive, with a brilliant demonstration of cutting edge and market making LegalTech. ALTA has since been invited by several local and global groups for further demonstrations and collaborations. This is remarkable and gives Australian LegalTech a voice on the world stage, but is perhaps not even the most exciting aspect.
The legal industry is changing, but the number of innovators is still far outweighed by the number of lawyers who are unaware of the innovations happening around them and the technologies that are available to make their lives better, smoother and more intellectually stimulating. To progress the industry, to innovate and to keep moving forward, we need to support all LegalTech communities, whether as innovators, adopters, advocates or commentators.
For me, the most pleasing part about the arrival of ALTA is the sense of community. The enormous enthusiasm amongst members to support one another, to find ways to collaborate, to introduce opportunities, to promote, to assist and share ideas has been outstanding. Go Aussie!
Beyond the formal membership, the welcome by the legal community generally and the global LegalTech community specifically, suggests that the global legal industry is crying out for organisations which bring together the innovators, a single place to find LegalTech companies. Perhaps it is that the LegalTech and innovation market noise is reaching fever pitch, and this gives the community a narrower place to focus its attention. Whatever the reason, ALTA is delighted to be part of it.
Now, time to roll up the sleeves and get back to that LegalTech innovation!
Jodie Baker, CEO and founder of corporate legal operations software provider Xakia Technologies