Welcome to your Law Tech weekly briefing covering what happened in legal tech last week.
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Takeaways from the key stories
Elite Technology is planning a significant business restructuring, partly initiated by its transition from Thomson Reuters to a SaaS business model. The company aims to cut its workforce by 20% and pull back from non-core markets, including China, India, Mexico, Poland, and Singapore. On the government front, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) partnered with justice tech firm Paladin to establish the DOJ Pro Bono Portal, aiming to connect DOJ attorneys with pro bono legal work opportunities.
In the AI realm, LexisNexis launched Lexis+ AI, a generative AI tool designed to assist with legal research, document drafting, and summarizing legal issues. Finally, research by BigHand suggested that more than half of law firms globally lack necessary data on lawyer skills or capacity, signaling a need for more strategic, data-driven approaches in the legal profession.
A surge in legal tech development was evident last week, with a clear industry trend towards AI-enabled tools and SaaS business models. The launch of Lexis+ AI and the DOJ's Pro Bono Portal both reveal an increasing reliance on technology to improve legal work, particularly in research and pro bono opportunities.
Moreover, the industry is witnessing a growing interest in advanced tech solutions, supported by the 2023 Start/Stop survey, which shows a rising inclination towards generative AI use in law firms. Another significant trend is the shift from traditional business models to more streamlined, focused strategies. This is exemplified by Elite Technology's strategic shift following its separation from Thomson Reuters.
The recent industry developments, while disruptive, present both challenges and opportunities. The restructuring of Elite Technology might cause initial upheaval, but the shift towards a SaaS model and legal tech solutions could yield long-term efficiency benefits. The DOJ's Pro Bono Portal, through its transparent visibility of pro bono work, could motivate legal professionals to enhance their pro bono contributions, thus fostering a cultural shift towards more community service within the sector. The introduction of AI tools, such as Lexis+ AI, will undoubtedly revolutionize research and drafting processes. However, it's essential for law firms to adopt these tools and adequately train their staff to reap the benefits fully. The BigHand research highlights a significant gap in data-driven decision-making within law firms. Identifying and leveraging lawyer skills or capacity could be a game-changer in terms of profitability, client retention, and talent management. Now more than ever, it's crucial for law firms to evolve alongside these technological and strategic trends.
You'll find original sources and summaries of all key stories below.
Takeaways from all the other stories
Innovations, collaborations, and high-profile hirings have underscored the importance of technology adoption in the legal world. Paladin, a leading legal tech firm, has teamed up with the Department of Justice's Office for Access to Justice to launch a platform that better facilitates pro-bono work. Australian startup Syncly is expanding its team and features, after securing seed funding and a new CTO. In other news, NetDocuments has launched an AI-powered document solution, while LinkSquares has introduced new features aiming to enhance efficiency for legal teams. These developments accompany increasing voice from legal tech startups and firms for improved online profiling, AI utilization, and client communication.
Several recurring themes and trends surface in this market snapshot. AI is increasingly being used to enhance legal tech solutions, as demonstrated by Paladin, Syncly, and LinkSquares focusing on AI deployment to enhance their products. Moreover, there’s an increasing trend of collaborations and integrations. Paladin's collaboration with DOJ's Office, Prada's partnership with Amazon's CCU, and LEAP's incorporation of WealthCounsel's drafting solution all reflect this theme. We are also noticing a prolific uptick in investment, with startups like Ayora securing substantial funding and PE firm Consello Capital acquiring a majority stake in ProSearch Strategies. Lastly, educating and involving younger lawyers seems to be a growing concern, as suggested by discussions around bridging the generational gap in law firms.
Legal professionals should pay big attention to the highlighted stories. Advancements in AI, for example, could streamline their work, reducing both time and costs. Adoption of these technologies could significantly improve operational efficiencies and client service offerings. Furthermore, the trend towards enhanced collaboration and integration could lead to a more interconnected, global legal ecosystem. This could potentially open new avenues for expanding services and reaching clients. On the investment front, the increase in investments could lead to a rise in start-ups offering innovative solutions, creating more competitive market dynamics. Finally, the focus on young practitioners underscores the need for firms to invest in their future leaders, a critical task given the rapidly evolving legal landscape. It suggests a needed shift in the way firms approach mentorship and training programs. Overall, the legal tech landscape is evolving rapidly, and legal professionals would do well to keep abreast with these latest trends.
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Elite Technology is making the strategic move away from non-core markets including China, India, Mexico, Poland and Singapore and plans to cut 20% of its staff. The new strategy is the result of a "comprehensive evaluation" of the business and the desire to become a leading SaaS business in the legal tech industry. CEO Mark Dorman communicated that the departure from Thomson Reuters necessitated the restructuring to allow for better organisation around core hubs. The move aims to allow for the transition to and innovation in the SaaS sphere while maintaining optimal customer service in the core market areas of the US, Canada, UK, Australia and Elite's tech hubs in the Philippines and Costa Rica. The restructuring was disappointing to some staff who were expecting increased stability post- Thomson Reuters departure.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is teaming up with justice tech firm Paladin to offer each of its 10,000 attorneys the chance to sign up for opportunities to provide pro bono legal aid. The collaborators will roll out the DOJ Pro Bono Portal on a state-by-state basis to provide DOJ lawyers with local opportunities to help those in need. Besides enabling attorneys to serve legal services organizations, the platform will provide DOJ with real-time data insights to shape the development of the DOJ’s Pro Bono Program, established in 1996. The DOJ-Paladin collaboration will only involve DOJ attorneys, not all attorneys in the federal government. Paladin's CEO noted "the impact of this partnership will be monumental."
LexisNexis has just released Lexis+ AI, a new cutting-edge product, which uses large language models to provide legal advice, generate drafts of legal documents, and summarize legal issues. Initially limited to a select group of Am Law 50 firms for a commercial preview, the tool is now available to all US customers. Lexis+ AI is integrated with LexisNexis' proprietary search technology, Shepard's Citations service, and authoritative content to provide reliable results. Jeff Pfeifer, chief product officer for LexisNexis in various regions, claimed that several refinements were made to the product during its commercial preview phase, involving a wider scope of test clients including corporate legal departments, small law firms, and US courts. Despite competition, Lexis+ AI stands out with its features such as conversational search, document drafting, summarization, and document uploading.
The annual Start/Stop survey, conducted in partnership with Harbor, shows that law firms are increasingly interested in generative AI, with 33 organizations participating in the survey. These firms are gauging which AI and analytics products best meet their needs. The analytics market is shifting as law firms decide which services they can do without. Thomson Reuters' acquisition of Casetext was noted as a significant move, designed to gain a competitive edge in the market of AI products. The CoCounsel AI product was regarded as the best new product by survey recipients. Interestingly, Lexis+ AI earned top ranking for most likely implementation or evaluation, possibly due to successful outreach and education efforts. As for planned rollouts, Casetext Co Counsel is leading, followed by Lexis and ALM products. Law firms also plan to expand access in Bloomberg and Lexis. The next report will delve into administrative issues including AI policies and workflow initiatives.
Research conducted by BigHand, a leading provider of legal technology solutions, reveals key challenges that hundreds of law firms across the UK and North America are grappling with, including a decline in client demand and a lack of information about staff skills or capacity. The changes in the ways we work, brought on by the shift towards hybrid work, have impacted law firms' talent and resource management, leading to higher staff turnover and lateral hiring. Moreover, law firms also face increasing pressure from clients to ensure diversity amongst staff working on matters. The research underscores the growing importance of insight-led DEI strategies and indicates a shift in the industry, stressing the need for law firms to adapt to intelligence-led resource management strategies for improved client and talent retention amid declining market conditions.
Legal technology firm Paladin has partnered with the Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice to launch the DOJ Pro Bono Portal. The platform will allow DOJ attorneys to utilize Paladin's technology to enhance their pro bono work. The portal enables volunteers to find local opportunities suitable for federal employees, register for legal matters or clinics, and liaise with legal services organizations. The collaboration aims to strengthen pro bono legal services across the country.
Australian legal tech startup Syncly has appointed Rishit Patel, ex-VP of software engineering at Thomson Reuters HighQ, as its CTO. Patel will oversee Syncly's security architecture and team development. Syncly offers no-code integrations between law firms' record systems and collaboration platforms, facilitating document synchronisation and transfer. This follows Syncly's recent seed funding round led by Stuart Barr, former chief product and strategy officer of HighQ.
The American Bar Association (ABA) is calling for applications for its Startup Alley competition at TECHSHOW 2024. Legal tech startups have until 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on November 10, 2023, to apply. From the entries, 15 will be selected to participate in a live pitch competition and will also be showcased as exhibitors in the Startup Alley section of the conference.
The LawSites video series recently highlighted Sage Timeslips, a platform designed to simplify time tracking, invoicing, and financial management for legal professionals. Guest Desi Williams demonstrated key features including database setup, client creation, timeslip and expense slip creation, and bill generation. The series, titled 'How It Works,' offers practical demonstrations of various legal technology products.
DLA Piper, in collaboration with Reveal, has launched an AI-driven compliance tool, Aiscension. The tool uses neural net technology to rapidly scan millions of communications, enhancing risk monitoring for clients. It focuses on unstructured data, such as internal documents and communications. Aiscension is pre-trained and supervised by DLA Piper's lawyers. The firm's Executive Director, Ilan Sherr, anticipates AI will significantly transform legal services in the next five years, making it a necessity for competitive firms.
A survey by Firesign indicates that small businesses rely on referrals to find lawyers, but conduct substantial research afterwards, including online searches and checking reviews. The study emphasizes the need for legal professionals to maintain a robust online presence and reputation, given that small businesses encounter an average of 13 legal issues each year, equating to 429 million potential legal cases in the U.S. annually.
FileTrail, a major provider of information governance and records management software, is extending its reach to Australia, securing its first law firm client and launching a new Microsoft Azure data center. This expansion is in line with FileTrail's strategy to modernize information systems and bolster data security, especially in regulated sectors. The new client is a leading full-service Australian law firm, with the transition to FileTrail's platform projected to be finalized by 2024.
The article discusses the disparity in per-hour rates between junior and senior lawyers, suggesting clients may overpay for junior lawyers' services. It proposes using AI technology to automate simpler tasks usually performed by junior lawyers, enabling senior lawyers to concentrate on more complex, high-value tasks. This could allow law firms to charge clients less for simpler legal 'products' and more for complex legal 'counsel', providing better value for money.
A recent survey by Everlaw and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) has revealed that in-house legal teams are increasingly using AI to manage costs due to budget constraints, with 33% leveraging technology, a rise from 12% last year. The report also indicated a trend towards bringing more work in-house and outsourcing to smaller firms. The need for better collaboration with other business departments and the adoption of modern technology was also emphasized.
AI-powered legal technology provider, LinkSquares, has introduced new features to boost efficiency for legal teams. The enhancements include Large Language Models (LLMs) for improved data extraction accuracy, integrations with business systems, and comprehensive reporting dashboards. The company's Prioritize platform, known for streamlining processes and providing data-driven performance insights, has gained wide acceptance. LinkSquares also launched a Slack integration for instant notifications and improved communication.
Private equity firm Consello Capital has acquired a majority stake in ProSearch Strategies, a legal services provider that uses technology to assist enterprises with litigation, regulatory, and privacy issues. This is Consello Capital's first investment. ProSearch Strategies employs data science and advanced technologies for eDiscovery processes. The financial terms of the deal remain undisclosed.
NetDocuments has launched an AI-powered product, PatternBuilder MAX, constructed on Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service. The product, featuring nine apps, aims to improve legal document management and drafting tasks such as summarizing, extracting, analyzing, translating, and comparing documents. Developed from insights gathered from hundreds of NetDocuments customers, these apps aim to automate tasks and enhance legal processes using AI technology.
Filevine, a law practice management platform, has launched a feature called Payments by Filevine, enabling law firms to accept electronic payments from clients via ACH, credit card, and debit card. This feature automatically updates invoice statuses and is compatible with diverse fee agreements. It also enhances Filevine's existing time and billing functions. Firms with up to two employees processing $500,000 annually through Filevine Payments will receive free user licenses.
NetDocuments has introduced PatternBuilder MAX, an AI-powered document assembly product featuring nine pre-built Studio Apps. These apps use generative AI to cater to common legal scenarios and can be customized according to a firm's requirements. They offer features for summarizing, drafting, data extraction, contract analysis, timeline generation, translation, document comparison, drafting next sections, and querying documents. The apps, developed from insights gathered from hundreds of customers, will continue to evolve.
The article emphasizes the importance of promptly addressing client dissatisfaction in the legal industry. It suggests strategies for law firms to manage service-related issues, including being proactive, allowing clients to express disappointment, avoiding defensiveness, summarizing the problem, offering apologies, not making unrealistic promises, and ensuring follow-ups. The author asserts that quick and sincere responses can enhance client relationships. Delta Air Lines' customer complaint handling is used as a case study.
Malaysian law firm Halim Hong & Quek (HHQ) is implementing 3E and MatterSphere, financial and practice management solutions from Elite, in a multi-product deal. The technology aims to enhance HHQ's growth and cash flow by decreasing the gap between work completion and payment receipt. Additionally, the firm's real estate practice will gain from MatterSphere's automation features.
NetDocuments has introduced PatternBuilder MAX, a suite of nine AI-driven applications aimed at automating routine legal tasks. Launched at the annual Inspire conference, the apps offer features for document drafting, data extraction, and text translation. They can be used directly or tailored to a law firm's unique requirements. The company plans to release additional apps continuously.
Legal intelligence firm vLex has introduced an AI-powered suite of tools on its Vincent AI platform, shaping a comprehensive legal research platform. The platform, which uses one of the world's largest online law libraries, accepts natural language queries, conducts research, and generates research memos or arguments. Currently, the tool suite is available in the UK, US, Ireland, and Spain, with plans for further expansion.
A federal jury has ordered Dimerco Express USA, a logistics firm, to pay over $3 million in damages for rescinding a job offer to a Black candidate on racial grounds. The company was alleged to have a "race-matching" policy, hiring only Caucasians to serve the "Caucasian market". The awarded amount includes compensation for lost wages, emotional distress, and punitive damages.
The Prada Group has partnered with Amazon's Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) to fight the sale of fake luxury goods on the platform. This collaboration resulted in the conviction of a Chinese counterfeiter, who received a three-year prison term and a $25,000 fine. The conviction, based on overseas sales and inventory records, is a rare instance of a referral from Amazon's CCU leading to such a result.
LexisNexis Legal & Professional has introduced Lexis+ AI, an AI tool designed to enhance productivity in the U.S. legal sector. The tool, which utilizes large language models like Anthropic’s Claude 2 and OpenAI’s GPT-4 and ChatGPT, offers citation validation, document drafting, case summarisation, and document upload capabilities. Its goal is to optimize the legal process by leveraging LexisNexis' search and citation technology.
LEAP Legal Software has incorporated WealthCounsel's drafting solution into its cloud-based practice management software, enhancing productivity and drafting capabilities for estate planning lawyers. This integration, following LEAP's acquisition of WealthCounsel, eliminates the need for switching between platforms, thus reducing error risk. It enables attorneys to draft, save, and share documents directly from the LEAP platform.
Senior attorneys' frustration towards younger lawyers' work ethic is due to a communication and expectations gap, not lack of dedication. To bridge this generational gap, law firms should offer clearer guidance, professional development, and create a culture where mistakes are learning opportunities. The success of young lawyers depends on flexibility, transparency, recognition, and empowerment. Law firms need to adjust their perceptions and judgement of the next generation of partners.
LexisNexis Legal & Professional has introduced Lexis+ AI, a Generative AI solution for the US legal industry. The secure system offers encrypted results from Lexis's authoritative materials and Shepard's citations. It includes features such as conversational search, intelligent legal drafting, insightful summarization, and document upload. The system also mitigates the risk of fabricated content, verifies all citations, and allows immediate user feedback. Pricing will depend on the organization's size and market segment.
LexisNexis has introduced Lexis+ AI, an artificial intelligence solution for US customers that aims to revolutionize legal work. The tool provides linked legal citations, advanced search technology, and authoritative content. It also includes features such as conversational search, intelligent legal drafting, summarization, and document upload capabilities. The solution, developed in collaboration with leading tech companies, is designed to minimize the risk of invented content and deliver comprehensive results swiftly.
London law firm Howard Kennedy has increased efficiency and profitability by automating its Banking and Real Estate Finance team's processes. The changes have reduced transaction times by ten days and saved 90 minutes per case, setting a new industry standard. The firm's successful integration of technology demonstrates a shift in work approach and addresses capacity challenges.
US software company, ServiceNow, has addressed a potential security flaw in its Access Control Lists (ACL) which could have allowed unauthorized data access. The issue was identified by security researcher, Aaron Costello. In response, cybersecurity firm Arctic Wolf has issued recommendations for ServiceNow customers to bolster their data security.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is facing criticism over a proposed rule that mandates companies to disclose their carbon emissions and climate change risks. Detractors argue that this exceeds the SEC's authority and imposes unnecessary costs for business details deemed immaterial. However, climate activists assert that most Fortune 1000 companies will not incur additional costs, citing existing Californian regulation. The SEC, which has postponed the final rule, is currently reviewing over 16,000 comments.
Legal tech startup Ayora, co-founded by Stefan Ciesla and Dr. Gordon McKenzie, uses AI and data analytics to help lawyers manage financial elements of their cases. The company's Smart Lockup Assistant simplifies team collaboration by generating recommendations through statistical computations. After raising substantial funds in an angel round in 2022, Ayora is targeting blue-chip law firms with the aim of enhancing their financial outcomes and streamlining their practice and matter management processes.