Legal Tech. These are the buzz words of late that make lawyers shudder, entrepreneurs giddy and venture capitalists excited, yet weary at the same time. So what do these words mean?
The phrase legal tech is nothing new. It refers to legal technology/software that helps law firms with such things as practice management, document storage, billing, accounting and e-discovery. If you Google legal tech, “The LegalTech Trade Show” pops up, an event put on by ALM several times a year to introduce lawyers to new technology.
So as you can see the phrase has always existed, and there have always been companies focused on the legal industry. However, recently, the phrase seems to have expanded to include companies that are (1) helping consumers/businesses connect with attorneys online and (2) providing the tools that consumers/businesses need to take legal matters into their own hands, obviating the need for an attorney. Since 2009 non-lawyers started to show interest in legal technology and a legal tech cult-like movement emerged. Law students, motivated by Mark Zuckerberg’s success and debilitated by the poor legal job market, started considering alternative career options, one of which was starting their own legal tech startup. Non-lawyers also saw the legal industry as an opportunity desirous of exploitation, given the 1.2 million lawyers in the US and their slow (or rather lack of) adoption of innovative technologies.
“In 2009, there were 15 startups identifying themselves as legal tech startups. Today there are over 400 listed on Angel List.” This is a stat that has been quoted in numerous articles of late. However, it is slightly misleading. Included in the 400 are law firms listing themselves as legal startups, those still in beta with no funding and of course the startups that are sadly no longer in existence. That more people are zeroing in on the inefficiencies in the legal industry is undeniable however it is a very hard industry to cut through, evidenced by the high number of companies that have tried and fail.
An overview of the legal tech scene is not complete without mention of Silicon Valley, the startup capital of America. It is also the hub for legal tech startups thanks to Stanford. Stanford is at the forefront of the legal tech startup movement with its FutureLaw Conferences, which bring together thought leaders in the industry to discuss the impact of technology and startups on the legal profession. Even prior to that they held a Legal Tech Startup Summit in 2012 which served to bring together the legal tech community. Stanford also started Codex, the Center for Legal Informatics, which incubates companies started by law students. Some companies that have come out of the program are Ravel Law, Judicata, Lex Machina and Attorney Fee.
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Below is a list of some of the recognized names in the SF legal tech startup scene:
– Raised $1.8 million
– Quora for the legal industry
– Y-Combinator alumni
– Raised $1.6 million
– Helps businesses find lawyers
– Angelpad alumni
-Raised $3.4 million
-Helps couples divorce amicably
– Y-Combinator alumni
– Debt financing of $1.7 million
– Raised $800,000
– Making the immigration process simple and affordable
– Started by a team that used to run a lawyer client matching site
SERIES A and beyond
-Raised $10.9 million
-Provides analytics around IP litigation data
-Raised $7.8 million
-Provides research and analytics tools around case law
-Raised $8.1 million
-Legal research tool that provides a visualization of case law relationships
-Raised $46.2 million
-Incorporation service and legal document provider
-online Q&A service for legal advice
-acquired by Rocket Lawyer
-transparency around legal fees
-acquired by Legalzoom
– a fellow at the Stanford D school, she is known for her visual depictions of case law and her initiative to use design to create better access to justice.
-Tim runs the firm Robot, Robot & Hwang LLP and helps organize the FutureLaw confereces at Stanford.
-CEO of Casetext,
-VP of Data Science at Casetext
-CEO of Ravel Law
-co-founder and Chief Product Officer at LegalZoom
-co-founder and CEO of Upcounsel
-Executive Director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science and Technology
-co-founder of Codex
INVESTORS THAT ARE BULLISH ON THE LEGAL TECH INDUSTRY
-Casetext, Upcounsel, Judicata
-David Lee is a co-founder and managing partner at SV Angels. He was previously an attorney which explains his interest in legal tech startups
Ulu Venture Partners
-Ravel, Bridge Us, Lex Machina
-doesn’t seem to be that active which leaves room for someone to take initiative!
Codex FutureLaw Conferences 2013, 2014
Reinvent Law Conferences
-run by Daniel Martin Katz and Hannah Brenner both professors at Michigan State University
While SF is the bedrock of legal tech, New York City has quickly become a very close second in terms of legal tech startup activity. A Legal Hackers Meetup which was first formed in NYC in 2012 has expanded to all parts of the US, aiming to assemble both developers and lawyers interesting in fixing the legal industry for the better.
New York is also home to several legal tech startups such as:
-Connecting individuals with lawyers in real time
-Connects small businesses with attorneys
-Full text search and tracking legal research tool for federal courts, bankruptcy, PTAB, ITC and USPTO
-Legally binding contracts on your mobile phone
– $2.1 million
-technology that summarizes contracts
This is not meant to be a static list. If anyone has anything to add, please email me at email@example.com or tweet me at @esqentrepreneur.