By now, all of us in the legal industry are either technophiles or luddites. For those excited to take a peek at what’s new and exciting in legal technology, ALM launched its Product Innovation Competition at this year’s Legalweek Conference in New York.
Twenty-three legal tech companies paraded the next generation of data analytics, e-discovery and legal research tools.
Five judges – Catherine Krow, founder and CEO of software platform Digitory Legal Corp; Haley Altman, CEO at software company Doxly; Richard Tromans, founder of artificiallawyer.com and Tromans Consulting; Ryan McClead, principal at legal tech consultancy Sente Advisors; and myself – were tasked with evaluating the companies on the criteria: Is the solution distinctive or fundamentally different from existing products? Does it enhance efficiency and/or productivity? Is there a clear market need? How good is the design of the solution? Its Functionality? Its Applicability?
Seven companies from a wide range of technologies, including patent evaluation, e-discovery, GDPR compliance, and data analytics made it to the final round: Fastcase Analytics Workbench, LexMachina, LexisNexis Context, OneTrust Privacy Management and Marketing Compliance Software, FRONTEO Patent Explorer 19, H5 PII Identification Solution, and Tikit Carpe Diem Intelligent Time. Each had 30 minutes to dazzle the legal tech crowd and convince the jurors at the conference.
According to juror Haley Altman, the competition showcased the importance of surfacing data to gain insights. “Each finalist seemed to find ways to help people aggregate data for actionable intelligence either for privacy compliance, litigation strategy, time keeping and billing, patent evaluation or discovery purposes,” Haley said. She believes that Analytics Workbench and Context rose to the top of the competition as they found innovative ways to surface highly valuable, but previously unavailable data to enable attorneys to work in more strategic ways.
Fellow judge Catherine Krow agreed, commenting: “The ability to make data-driven decisions is a key differentiator in this market, both for law firms and corporate legal departments. Unfortunately so much of the data in our industry is ‘dirty’ and/or unstructured. Products that can harness data — and deliver actionable insight from it — are filling a powerful industry need.”
Taking the client’s view, I was excited to see new approaches to improve effectiveness and efficiency of legal departments and law firms.
Our industry clearly is in transition from a labor-intensive delivery model to a more technology and process-enabled model. While some – clients and firms alike – still behave like they are an artisanal shop, others are successfully leverage technology in ways we couldn’t have imagined before. I predict particular growth opportunities for products that enable user-defined analytics. Rather than offering pre-defined analytics, in the future, providers will need to allow users to generate their own analytics.
As a startup founder herself, judge Catherine Krow hopes to see more startups in future competitions. “My advice to them: make sure you put forward enough information in the initial submission! For example, ask what criteria will be used to evaluate the solutions and submit materials that clearly show how your product fulfills those criteria. In some cases, the applicants did not submit enough detail about the product for us to properly evaluate them,” she said.
The 2019 Judges Awards Winner was Fastcase Analytics Workbench, the Winner of the popular vote was LexisNexis Context. Ryan McClead said: “FastCase’s win is indicative of a trend toward platforms that give legal service providers the tools to solve many problems of a type, rather than a single point solution.”
This is a fast-moving field and filled with energetic entrepreneurs. Not every provider will survive, a few will pack a big punch for the legal industry. Stay tuned for dramatic improvements in productivity, efficiency, speed, and quality.
Dr. Silvia Hodges Silverstein is Executive Director of the Buying Legal Council and lecturer in law at Columbia Law School