In-house legal teams have never faced so many opportunities or possibly so many challenges in the face of advancing technology. While the rise of the legal ops role is going a long way towards helping corporate counsel to create and build both ownership and understanding of process and technology, LawGeex’ In-house Counsel’s Legal Tech 2018 Buyer’s Guide, out today (14 May) is an essential guide for the entire market, featuring 16 different categories of legal tech from contract drafting to eDiscovery and digital signature, to prediction and litigation analytics software.
It is one of those guides that is – to mix our metaphors horribly – a slow burn rather than a quick dip. It includes not only listings of key providers in each category but highlights the latest legal trends as well as the experiences of legal teams at the vanguard of new tech adoption including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, McDonald’s, NetApp and others.
The guide is careful to identify some of the challenges and pressures that in-house teams are currently facing, not least cost pressures and the need for more strategic lawyering.
Key legal trends singled out include – of course – AI (“from buzzword to bulwark”); as well as funding and consolidation; blockchain; and SaaS and cloud computing.
AI players listed in the guide have increased from 40 to 66 in the past year across the legal playing field from drafting to legal research to IP. We like the Legal AI Landscape 2018 infographic on page 11 listing the vendors by legal discipline. Within contract due diligence – unsurprisingly one of the most crowded spaces – RAVN Systems, acquired by iManage in 2015, is notably not mentioned. iManage features within contract management but NetDocuments is notably absent because, LawGeex tells us, they didn’t come up in conversation with the in-house counsel spoken to.
Drawing joint first with 11 providers apiece are the eDiscovery and legal research categories. Within the former, DISCO – which unveiled DISCO AI in 2017 – is given a mention, as is Onna, which secured $5m investment in January and spans both knowledge management and eDsicovery.
Within legal research, Lexis Answers features as does Bloomberg Law but nothing from research leader Thomson Reuters, which arguably should feature for its data privacy law offering developed with IBM Watson.
In terms of legaltech funding in the past year broken down by sector (access to justice/contract management etc), the infographic on page 13 is a fantastic reminder of just how much cash is being injected into the sector: within eDiscovery between September 2017 and January 2018 a known $153m (no, that isn’t a typo) was invested, albeit that sum is skewed by the $96m financing to cloud hosted legal discovery software tool Zapproved.
There is guidance for in-house counsel on how to buy legal tech (including prioritise; define goals and plan, plan, plan) and ‘tales from in-house tech adoption’, where we like the quote from Sterling Miller, general counsel at Marketo, who says: “To be a successful in-house lawyer or general counsel you need to embrace technology and make sure your team does as well. So if you are afraid of technology you need to get past that.” (We’d agree but add “and hire yourself a great legal ops person to understand it for you.”)
We also agree with Lucy Bassli, LawGeex chief legal strategist and ex Microsoft assistant general counsel, who says: “The greatest and most far-reaching change we are seeing is how legal technology is making inroads into the front office, taking over tasks or initial steps of the actual legal work that has traditionally been handled by lawyers or legal staff. For the first time, everyday tasks—such as analysing or reviewing contracts and researching legal issues for case law and regulatory insights—are becoming increasingly automated, at least in stages.”
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