What is Legal Tech?

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.

More Articles About #LegalTech on The Law Insider: Young Lawyers, Move to Silicon ValleyShake and the Disruptable Gaps of the Legal Industry

Below is a list of some of the recognized names in the SF legal tech startup scene:

 

Legal Tech San Francisco

SEED STAGE

Casetext

– Raised $1.8 million

– Quora for the legal industry

– Y-Combinator alumni

Upcounsel

– Raised $1.6 million

– Helps businesses find lawyers

– Angelpad alumni

Wevorce

-Raised $3.4 million

-Helps couples divorce amicably

– Y-Combinator alumni

– Debt financing of $1.7 million

Bridge Us

– 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

Lex Machina

-Raised $10.9 million

-Provides analytics around IP litigation data

Judicata

-Raised $7.8 million

-Provides research and analytics tools around case law

Ravel Law

-Raised $8.1 million

-Legal research tool that provides a visualization of case law relationships

Rocket Lawyer

-Raised $46.2 million

-Incorporation service and legal document provider

ACQUISITIONS

Lawpivot

-online Q&A service for legal advice

-acquired by Rocket Lawyer

Attorney Fee

-transparency around legal fees

-acquired by Legalzoom

INFLUENCERS

Margaret Hagan

– 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 Hwang

-Tim runs the firm Robot, Robot & Hwang LLP and helps organize the FutureLaw confereces at Stanford.

Jake Heller

-CEO of Casetext,

Richard Downe

-VP of Data Science at Casetext

Daniel Lewis

-CEO of Ravel Law

Eddie Hartman

-co-founder and Chief Product Officer at LegalZoom

Matt Faustman

-co-founder and CEO of Upcounsel

Roland Vogl

-Executive Director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science and Technology

-co-founder of Codex

INVESTORS THAT ARE BULLISH ON THE LEGAL TECH INDUSTRY

SV Angel

-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

EVENTS

SF LegalTech Meetup

-doesn’t seem to be that active which leaves room for someone to take initiative!

Legal Tech Startup Weekend August 15-17 in San Francisco

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:

Lawdingo

-Raised $850,000

-Connecting individuals with lawyers in real time

-Ycombinator alumni

Priori Legal

-Connects small businesses with attorneys

Docket Alarm

-Full text search and tracking legal research tool for federal courts, bankruptcy, PTAB, ITC and USPTO

Shake

-$3 million

-Legally binding contracts on your mobile phone

 eBrevia

– $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 eva@one-400.com or tweet me at @esqentrepreneur.

Sources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/basharubin/2014/08/12/is-legal-tech-boom-over-it-hasnt-even-begun/

http://techcrunch.com/2014/08/05/the-jury-is-out-on-legal-startups/

http://lawyerist.com/74528/legal-startups/2/

http://www.lawtechnologynews.com/id=1202653720468/Legal-Tech-Startups-Face-Funding-Challenges

http://thelegalpioneer.blogspot.com/2014/01/movers-and-shakers.html

http://legalinformatics.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/legal-hacking-technology-and-innovation-groups/

http://tech.co/2013-big-year-legal-startups-2014-bigger-2014-02

http://www.elawyeringredux.com/2014/02/articles/law-startups/legal-start-ups-in-the-big-apple/

https://angel.co/legal

 

 

About Eva Hibnick, Esq.

Eva Hibnick is the co-founder and Chief of Growth at One400, a digital agency focusing on integrated marketing solutions for law firms and legal tech startups. She was previously the Marketing Manager at General Assembly and before entering the startup world, she was an attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and licensed to practice in New York. Eva is a frequent speaker on legal marketing and sales. She is also active in the legal tech community, serving as the co-organizer to the LA Legal Hackers Meetup, the LA Legal Community Meetup and was a mentor for the SF Legal Tech Startup Weekend.

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