Launch Cipher

Legal Geek – is playtime over?

5th November 2018 | Comments Off on Legal Geek – is playtime over?

Our CEO, Nigel Swycher, was recently quoted in a Sunday Times article under the title The Jury is out on robots for lawyers. Nigel’s contribution was more measured than the headline might suggest. He asked one rhetorical question (“if a machine can count and sort something in 5 seconds that takes a lawyer 5 days, why would you get a human to do it?”) and made one prediction (“clients will start adopting technology internally or go to law firms that do”).

Legal Geek, with hundreds of speakers and exhibitors and over 2000 attendees, is the best evidence that the rate of legal tech innovation and adoption is increasing exponentially. There is still, however, significant resistance to change and there is some risk that the experiential overload of Legal Geek may frighten the horses.

“Get some non-legal, IT or business capability in your team.” Saskia Mermans ,GC, KBC Bank

This for us was the most important message of the day. Lawyers have all sorts of trust and technical issues when being asked to consider the use of technology. The message was reinforced by Jeremiah Chan, head of patents at Facebook and before that Google – who in a recent interview, describes the recruitment of data scientists when integrating IP analytics into business decisions.

“If a team can’t engage with a tool, no matter how much you want them to it’s not going to work.” Ned Staple, GC, Zoopla

Pretty much every legal technology solution takes on three challenges: the aggregation, analysis and visualisation of data. For Apperio (used by Zoopla), it’s legal spend data, for Luminance (adopted by Slaughter and May) it’s document analysis, and for Cipher it’s patents.

Ned’s message is hugely important – always think of the user and their experience. No part of the success involves finding a cool technology and then looking for a problem. The winners will be those who spend the right amount of time understanding the problem and the developing the right product.

Incubators, and innovators

We met a number of companies from Mischcon’s incubator, MDR Lab and Eagle Lab (Barclays partnership with The Law Society) presented on the main stage. There is also a range of law firms who are supporting start-ups with a range of legal services: this list includes Slaughter and May with Fast Forward, CMS with equIP and Allen & Overy with Fuse. All of these initiatives are to be encouraged – but don’t confuse support with adoption.

Not robots, just technology

Tessian prevents misaddressed emails. Not glamorous, but important. Tim Sadler, CEO gave the following advice: “Do one thing incredibly well, solve one problem better than anyone else solves it, and use it to penetrate a specific market.”

It is time to stop thinking of lawyers being replaced by technology and to start asking why a $1 trillion market is taking its time to evolve.