Autto Blog:

LegalTech Trends 2019

 

2019 promises to provide opportunities and risks for individuals in the LegalTech community. Here are six trends that we see impacting LegalTech this year.

 The LegalTech industry has received some hype in the past few years, as attorneys and investors have seen technology transforming the practice of law. It is safe to say that this transformation hasn’t occurred as quickly as some may have thought. But that said, technology has made some headway in the legal world. There are some exciting innovations happening in law firms and legal offices across the country today.

 So what does this mean for 2019? Here are six trends that we see occurring in the LegalTech community this year.

Legaltrends

2019

 

  1. The Rise of the Long Tail
  2. The Importance of Micro Automation
  3. Law Students’ Emphasis on Technology
  4. Vendors Understanding the Human Side of LegalTech
  5. LegalTech Focuses on Smaller Firms
  6. The Hype Level Decreases
  1. The Rise of the Long Tail

 Startups in the LegalTech space have primarily focused on solving problems that face all attorneys, whether that is being more effective when completing legal research or more efficiently handling e-discovery tasks. In 2019, there will be more attention focused on startups that are solving problems affecting attorneys and clients. For example, JustFix.nyc is a startup based in New York City that helps tenants file legal complaints against their landlords in New York City Housing Court. Simple Citizen, a startup backed by the prestigious incubator YCombinator, helps individuals prepare immigration paperwork and submit to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Radvocate helps customers and attorneys more easily access the consumer arbitration process. The list goes on and on. Ultimately, long tail legal startups will become increasingly important in addressing legal issues in the marketplace.

 

  1. The Importance of Micro Automation

If you aren’t yet aware, micro automation is the idea of automating smaller tasks or less frequently used documents in your workflow. Whether it is the process of onboarding a new client or creating an engagement letter, micro automation can make your life much easier. Instead of worrying about minor tasks that can be automated away, you and your colleagues can focus on the more significant tasks on your plate. For instance, a full office automation platform like the recently launched Autto or document automation solutions like Rapidocs LawDraft can have a substantial impact over time. These platforms can help you delegate away some of your more repetitive, mundane tasks, whether you work at a large corporate law firm or a solo practice. 

 

  1. Law Students’ Emphasis on Technology

 Law students, who are often in their 20s or early 30s, tend to be more in line with current technological trends than practicing attorneys. Law schools themselves have continued to embrace new technologies in their curriculum. For instance, the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law joined the Global Legal Blockchain Consortium, which is designed to develop legal standards to “implement blockchain innovations in government and industry.” Law students at Cornell University teamed up with MBA students to create custom-made legal apps in order to deliver legal services through technology. For instance, one app created for Pine Tree Legal Assistance helps potential litigants when pursuing housing discrimination claims. At the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, law students gathered at a one-day legal tech boot camp to discuss topics like smart computing and artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, and data security and privacy. This is just a subset of examples, but the point remains: law schools are catering to Millennials’ interest in technology by helping students explore elements of the LegalTech industry.

  1. Vendors Understanding the Human Side of LegalTech

 Some could argue that the LegalTech industry thus far has been focused on hard numbers and data, whether that is using big data to predict the outcome of judicial rulings or making ediscovery quicker and more efficient. That said, in 2019, LegalTech will be more focused on the human side of products. Increasing interactions between vendors and the legal community at large events like the Legal Geek Conference has made it clear that law is fundamentally based on human understanding. By itself, an algorithm cannot inherently understand how humans work or feel. Institutions and LegalTech companies themselves are beginning to understand this reality and implement more human-focused solutions on a larger scale. As just one simple example, the Legal Design Lab is a collaboration between Stanford’s Law School and d.school that works to apply human-centered design to new LegalTech products.

  

  1. LegalTech Focuses on Smaller Firms

LegalTech startups promise to serve even more small firms in 2019. While there have been a significant number of LegalTech startups that primarily serve large commercial law firms, young, scrappy, and growing startups are striving to provide more SaaS solutions to smaller firms. For example, CourtCall has teamed up with Gavelytics to provide valuable analytics to small firm attorneys scheduled to appear in front of California judges. These innovations are not solely in the private sector. The Florida Bar recently launched LegalFuel, which is an online resource for attorneys who are starting and managing a small law firm. Smaller firms, who may have felt shunned by the LegalTech community, are beginning to see more tools and products that are catered to their own, specific needs.

 

  1. The Hype Level Decreases

 While the LegalTech community has received immense hype over the past number of years, we will begin to see the hype level decrease while the range of practical solutions increases. This isn’t particular to LegalTech itself. The Gartner Hype Cycle illustrates a common pattern when new technology is introduced to the marketplace. While one could argue where we precisely are on the curve, we believe that we are in a period where practicality will trump hype. The legal community is skeptical by nature and this skepticism will continue to be relevant, especially if there is a slowdown in the overall economy. LegalTech startups will need to understand this reality and ensure that they are making their value proposition extremely clear when pitching to attorneys and law firms.

 

Watch These Trends

 While this is not an exclusive list, these trends will impact the LegalTech community in 2019. Yes, it is an exciting time. Scrappy startups are creating some unbelievable products. That said, lawyers and law firms remain skeptical. Whether you are an attorney, founder of a LegalTech startup, or have some other position in the legal industry itself, it is clear that 2019 will be an extremely exciting year.

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