Welcome to your Law Tech briefing for Oct 4th, 2023, covering what happened in legal tech recently.
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Have less than a 1 min? Three takeaways from yesterday
- Legal tech is evolving rapidly, with a significant shift towards automation and AI implementation to enhance efficiency in tasks like contract management, legal research, and payments. However, it's important for legal professionals to understand and manage 'transformation fatigue' caused by the rapid onset of new technologies. Striking a balance between automation and maintaining the human touch in legal services is crucial.
- Innovative tools and initiatives, such as Dentons' fleetAI and Schneider Wallace's Clarra, demonstrate how technology can enhance human abilities in the legal realm, helping to facilitate successful digital transformation. Simultaneously, the importance of factors such as ease of use, interoperability, and accessibility to these tools in the legal sector cannot be overstated.
- A growing trend in the legal industry is the democratization of legal tech, exemplified by collaborative practices like Zuva and Litera’s open-source document classification taxonomy. This suggests a future where success in the legal tech space will not only depend on the innovation of technologies but also on their accessibility and integration within the industry's broader ecosystem.
Here's what happened in legal tech recently...
Hélder Santos began his role as head of legal tech and innovation at Bird & Bird, tackling the implementation of legal tech solutions worldwide. The American Bar Association's annual TECHSHOW invited legal tech startups for a live pitch competition, aiming at those who've never had the opportunity to exhibit at a national legal tech conference. Global law firm Dentons unveiled fleetAI, an innovative AI tool designed to optimize efficiency in automated contract reports. Zuva and Litera have partnered to open-source a document classification taxonomy, striving to streamline document classification and law firm management. SkillBurst Interactive successfully launched a series of AI training programs for lawyers titled "Generative AI Fundamentals for Law Firms." Schneider Wallace, a San Francisco-based law firm, has developed a case management software, Clarra, that aims to enhance effectiveness in docket-driven litigation practices.
The legal industry is automating significantly, with 60% of law departments implementing legal data analytics tools in 2022. The sector is, however, experiencing 'transformation fatigue' due to the rapid rise in new technologies. Meanwhile, the Middle East's legal tech sector has evolved impressively, with UAE's Clara expanding into Saudi Arabia and startups joining the 2023 HiiL Justice Accelerator Programme. Moreover, law firms are shifting towards profit plan models instead of traditional budgets. Also, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is making strides in adopting AI technology to manage its extensive intellectual property data.
Automation is seen to dominate primarily in contract management, legal research, and payments. The onboarding of AI technologies suggests that the legal industry is rapidly embracing digitization to enhance competitiveness and serve client needs more efficiently. While automation takes the limelight, organizations are being urged to concentrate on areas where technology can enhance human abilities, helping facilitate successful digital transformation. Tools such as fleetAI from Dentons and Clarra from Schneider Wallace embody this approach, using AI to boost human capabilities and streamline operations. However, the adoption of these innovative tools comes with its set of challenges - the 'transformation fatigue' suggests that striking a balance between automation and preserving the human touch in legal services is crucial. The democratization of legal tech through open-sourced resources like Zuva and Litera’s document classification taxonomy points towards the collaboration-centric future of the industry. Future players will likely thrive on not just how innovative their technologies are but how accessible and interoperable they become in the industry's broader ecosystem.
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A consortium of eleven international law firms is collaborating on a first-of-its-kind project to create a series of on-demand and interactive training courses in generative AI for lawyers and other legal professionals. The series, called Generative AI Fundamentals for Law Firms, is being delivered in partnership with SkillBurst Interactive, an on-demand learning provider for law firms and businesses. This consortium project responds to an “overwhelming call” from law firms for vendor-neutral training in generative AI, offering modules that address privacy, security, data bias, ethics, liability, accountability, and collaboration skills. These high-quality, relevant courses are available to law firms outside the consortium via subscription.
Legal tech firms, Zuva and Litera, have collaborated and developed a comprehensive multi-level document classification taxonomy to standardize legal data for use by legal professionals and firms. The taxonomy has been contributed to the SALI Alliance for open-source use. The innovative document classifier, consisting of 225 document classifications, is offered via Zuva’s API. This development is aimed at resolving problems resulting from multiple systems being used for contract analysis and document management. The taxonomy will optimize consistency and interoperability and amplify AI's role in legal technology. The taxonomy will streamline document recognition, retrieval, and review processes. Moreover, it could yield significant benefits for legal firms and corporations, aiding them in managing document systems robustly. Ultimately, the taxonomy is anticipated to largely automate document tagging, a feauture that saves a substantial amount of time and resources.
International law firm Bird & Bird has named Hélder Santos as its head of legaltech and innovation. Based in Frankfurt, Santos will be responsible for implementing legaltech solutions across the firm's global offices and will work closely with the international leadership team. His primary role will be to bolster the firm's legaltech capabilities and improve client value.
Legal Geek is providing alternative transportation for its two-day conference attendees due to a potential rail and tube strike on October 4. The company plans to offer free boats and luxury minibuses, and will also contribute £30 towards taxi fares or car parking expenses. The strike will not impact the Elizabeth Line, DLR, or London Overground, which will be operational on the conference's second day.
The American Bar Association (ABA) is inviting legal tech startups to compete in its annual TECHSHOW for the eighth year. The competition, limited to startups catering to legal professionals who have never exhibited at a national legal technology conference, will feature 15 selected startups in a live pitch competition. The winner will get a free booth at the 2025 TECHSHOW, a 12-month listing on the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center’s Buyer’s Guide, and a $5,000 advertising credit.
Global law firm Dentons has introduced fleetAI, a GPT4-based AI platform, for its staff and lawyers to use in client work. The tool can analyze and generate over 7 million words per minute and is expected to enhance efficiency, especially in generating automated contract-specific reports. Launched in September, the platform is designed to maintain confidentiality and has been positively received, marking a significant innovation in the legal industry.
Zuva and Litera have open-sourced a document classification taxonomy via the Standards Advancement for the Legal Industry (SALI) Alliance. The taxonomy, which covers 225 document types, aims to improve document classification in law firms' management systems, allowing for more efficient searches. It is built on a framework started at Kira in 2016/17 and is designed to be interchangeable with other systems, promoting standardization and interoperability across the legal industry.
San Francisco-based law firm Schneider Wallace has created a case management software, Clarra, to improve efficiency in docket-driven litigation practices. The cloud-based platform manages matters, events, tasks, deadlines, documents, timekeeping, and reports. It has improved the firm's attorney-to-staff ratio to 3:1 and supported its growth. The software, suitable for civil litigation firms of any size, offers features like a consolidated view of deadlines, a document tracking mail log, and integration with CalendarRules for court calendaring.
The Middle East's legaltech sector is evolving, with UAE's Clara expanding into Saudi Arabia and startups joining the 2023 HiiL Justice Accelerator Programme. The merger of law and technology is set to redefine litigation and improve justice accessibility. Notable advancements involve legal service digitization, process automation, and increased transparency in legal proceedings. The Saudi Ministry of Justice also hosted a conference to discuss digital transformation in the justice sector, highlighting the significance of artificial intelligence.
The legal industry is increasingly using automation to enhance competitiveness and meet client needs, with 60% of law departments implementing legal data analytics tools in 2022. However, the sector is experiencing 'transformation fatigue' due to the influx of new technologies. Automation is primarily used in contract management, legal research, and payments. The use of third-party managed accounts (TPMAs) can boost operational efficiency and client relationships. Experts advise focusing on areas where technology can augment human capabilities for successful digital transformation.
Doruntina Berisha, an independent Legal Tech specialist, outlines her career path from studying physics and law at the University of Vienna to becoming Head of Legal Tech at Code Law in Zurich. Her experience includes developing a remote teaching platform amid the Covid-19 pandemic and coordinating legal tech events. Berisha encourages those interested in this field to be passionate, resilient, and open to networking opportunities.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has adopted AI technology to manage its extensive intellectual property data, including patents, brands, designs, and international laws. AI solutions being used include automated translation, speech-to-text transcription, and image similarity search features. However, concerns about the accuracy of AI's work persist.
Stephanie Hamon, Head of Legal Operations Consulting at Norton Rose Fulbright, has discussed the changing role of in-house legal teams and the impact of technology on the legal industry. She notes a shift towards these teams becoming strategic business partners, with a growing emphasis on data and change management. Hamon also highlighted the potential of generative AI, but cautioned against neglecting basic elements in the rush to adopt new technologies. She stressed the role of empathy in effective change management.
The article highlights the significance of profit plans over budgets for law firms, arguing that they are less restrictive and more encouraging. It provides guidance on crafting a profit plan and emphasizes the need for regular reviews and tweaks. The piece concludes by advising law firm owners to ensure they receive adequate compensation for their efforts and risks.
Matters.Cloud has introduced a feature that automatically generates contacts when filing emails, improving client and contact management for law firms. The tool identifies and adds new contacts during email filing, prevents duplicate entries, and integrates with top document management systems. It also associates new and existing contacts with each case, offering a comprehensive view of all key participants. This innovation significantly streamlines contact management for legal professionals.
UK Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) software provider, Summize, has launched a US subsidiary and opened a new office in Boston following a 107% growth in new ARR. This marks the company's third year of triple-digit growth. Summize plans to attribute over 40% of its revenue to US clients within the next year. The Boston office will facilitate the expansion of its American client portfolio.
The article outlines several legal conferences and events for the rest of the year, including the 2023 AI and Robotics Institute, the 2023 GenAI and Emerging Technology Forum, Women, Influence & Power in Law 2023, the ACC 2023 Annual Meeting, the 2023 General Counsel Summit, and the NAWL 2023 General Counsel Institute. These events are designed to offer legal professionals insights into AI, robotics law, risk management, leadership, and career growth.