Legaltech isn’t just for lawyers…
There are 5.7 million businesses in the UK and just 140,000 solicitors (there’s even fewer if we just focus on corporate law). Looking at the numbers, it’s no wonder that fees are high and hours are long for lawyers. Based on this, it is clear why the LegalTech industry has boomed over the past few years, and will continue to do so, with the aim of easing the strain on lawyers and reducing fees for consumers. This is just simple economic theory.
What is LegalTech?
Before I explain why LegalTech isn’t just for lawyers, let’s start with how it is currently defined. Take this definition from G2: ‘all technology used by law firms to improve their processes and increase their efficiency and effectiveness’. Or this definition from IntellectSoft: ‘software and technologies that help law firms streamline core processes’.
From these definitions, it sounds like LegalTech is just for lawyers. I disagree. First, let me explain why this has traditionally been the case. Law firms have the money to invest in platforms to make their work more efficient, whereas their clients’ primary focus is on minimising legal costs. Therefore, there is little investment in LegalTech solutions for non-law firms and non-lawyers. Rather, Big Law has invested heavily in , ‘streamlin[ing] [its] core processes’.
LegalTech is for everyone
Despite this, the legal market has been changing drastically over the past few years and a trend towards ‘LegalTech for everyone’ has well and truly started. ‘LegalTech for everyone’ means technology solutions for anyone who accesses legal services, not just lawyers. Imagine your own personal lawyer, in your pocket, but not having to pay them and they speak in terms you understand.
Take SeedLegals, a platform that uses logic to allow any business owner to set up and close their investment round without the need for a lawyer (don’t worry, they have lawyers on hand to help if you get stuck). What previously would have taken lawyers weeks, months or even years has now been automated, and control has been passed to the business owner.
To take another example, CrowdJustice is enabling those without the required financial backing to crowdfund for legal support so they can obtain justice through the court system. It’s a wonderful example of how technology is making law accessible for all.
Finally, if you commute in London, Reeclaim is a platform that automatically submits delay repay claims on your delayed TfL journeys. It’s a fabulously simple yet effective piece of technology, giving power back to the consumer, minimising a previously manual and time-consuming task. Although, at the time of writing, their service is down for maintenance – oops.
A wider definition of LegalTech
Based on the processes these example businesses are improving, I think it is clear that the aforementioned definitions really are not fit for purpose. Instead, I propose a much broader , more inclusive definition of LegalTech:
‘LegalTech is any technology that makes a legal process easier, for anyone.’
Where is LegalTech headed?
I don’t have a crystal ball, but here are a few of my predictions for the future of LegalTech:
- Continued investment into LegalTech for everyone platforms;
- A world where real-time information for complaints is gathered in seconds resulting in decisions in minutes rather than weeks or months (think insurance claims or parking fines);
- A world where property transactions don’t require countless solicitors and are 100% error-free; and,
- Probate processes being completed at the click of a button based on live market data and bank feeds.
These are just a few ideas, but I hope they give an exciting glimpse of what is to come.
It is important not to forget of course, that LegalTech for lawyers will also continue to grow at a scarily fast pace, but, for me at least, it is the movement towards LegalTech for everyone that is going to change the world.
About the author
Josh Harris is the CEO and Co-founder of Doc2. A ‘Big 4’ Chartered Accountant-cum-business owner, he aims to make contract automation and eSigning simple and frictionless for SME businesses around the world. Feel free to add him on LinkedIn and suggest a different definition for what LegalTech really is.