legal startups

The Legal Startups Strike Back: The UK Guide To Legal Tech Startups

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A long time ago in this very, very same galaxy…

The legal industry can be traced back all the way to the Roman Empire, where the first “modern” lawyers were born. Of course since that time the industry has evolved. The legal sector is now one of the most profitable (£25.7 billion in 2015, which accounts for 1.4% of GDP in 2015), yet outdated sectors in the world.

With the invention of the Internet and the Internet of Things (IOT), the legal economy has advanced rapidly, but there are still opportunities for growth, especially when compared to other sectors.

However, that is all about to change! More and more legal startups are being formed every day with the aim of disrupting the industry. These startups are delivering solutions to both clients and lawyers, tackling the following problems:

i) the inability for low-income individuals to access quality legal advice;
ii) the lack of value for money; and
iii) the inefficiency and slow resolution of legal issues often found in-house as a result of too high a workload.

Legal startups are introducing technologies ranging from automation, data, compliance, eDiscovery, marketplaces, and more in order to help individuals and businesses access quality advice.

Compliance: Legal Startups

Compliance is an area where a lot of innovation is happening at the moment. The main reason for this is that as more and more legislations are passed, it becomes harder and harder for regulated sectors (such as financial and legal sectors) to keep up with them. Especially since compliance is needed in order to avoid massive fines, lawsuits, or being closed down.

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This has pushed innovation, and thus many startups have sprung up to tackle this problem. The major two in the UK are Amiqus and Redgrove. Amiqus specialises in anti-money laundering and identity and compliance checks online. It allows the user to check identity records, verify photo identification, and verify bank identity.

In addition, it is compliant to Her Majesty Revenue & Customs, Financial Conduct Authority, Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies, Prudential Regulation Authority, and more. Redgrove offers law firms and organisations data leak prevention technology and FOIA compliance.

eDiscovery: Legal Startups

Another area that has received a lot of innovation has been eDiscovery. Legal contracts can take a lot of time to write and create. This causes inefficiency to both the lawyers and the consumers. The consumers have to pay more since the lawyer is working more hours creating and writing the contracts. The lawyer creates and writes these contracts, which is a very tedious and time-wasting activity.

They could be using the time to actually focus on more complex work like FCA approvals. Furthermore, there is a lack of integration for these documents, which means a lot of time is being spent manually integrating the documents onto systems. That is where Casetext, Brochet, and ClauseMatch come in. Casetext has developed a product called LegalPad.

LegalPad allows the users to easily write about the law, conduct legal research, and read through insightful analysis of issues (written by professionals, students, academia, and others).

Brochet offers templates for legal letters and documents, seamless integration with document management, (DM) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. ClauseMatch has a platform that includes the following features: creating structured documents, live document editing, commenting and approvals, audit trail for approvals, track changes, a dashboard, and integration.

Automation: Legal Startups

Automation is becoming a necessity to improve how efficiently a company works (i.e. time management), with startups in every sector implementing or innovating such processes in order to stay ahead. The legal sector is not an exception. In fact, there are many legal startups that are coming up with new automation systems every day. Why the need for all this automation?

The main reason for automation is that it speeds up the whole system, allowing for more time to handle more important matters. Hence, this has become very crucial in the legal sector. The automation of certain tasks allows lawyers to spend more quality time with clients and help them better, without wasting time on other matters.

Legatics, Autto, Peppermint Technology, and Raven have developed automation systems targeted to improve the legal system. Legatics has developed an online software for managing CP collection and process.

It aims to streamline and automate many tasks that involve the conditions precedent (CP) process, where the proportion of administrative work is much larger than the technical value added by lawyers. Autto allows users to codify and automate processes up to a certain point and then triggering the involvement of a professional when required. Peppermint Technology’s product is a cloud-based, comprehensive CRM, financials, case and practice management system.

Finally, Raven allows law firms to automatically categorise data into clear scopes and refinements and to apply appropriate policies for retention, disposal of dark data, and duplicates. In addition, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology automatically analyses contracts and performs due diligence tasks.

Marketplace: Legal Startups

An increasing trend in legal startups is to build an online marketplace for lawyers. Why? Traditionally, finding a lawyer is a very hard and time-consuming process. You can ask friends and search online but, there isn’t a definitive way of knowing if that lawyer would be right for your certain case.

Furthermore, most lawyers wouldn’t be able to give you an exact quote for their work. They will give you answers like: “We charge £350 per hour”.

This lack of transparency in price and difficulty in finding the right lawyer have pushed this innovation into marketplaces for lawyers. For example, Pekama is an online marketplace for IP specialists looking for firms in need of foreign associates or the other way around. The point of this marketplace is to help the IP community to grow. Then there is Lexoo, which is a general marketplace for lawyers.

MyBarrister is an online marketplace to find barristers for your case. They have barristers for both personal and business cases. There are many, many different types of marketplace startups available in the UK, all split up to cover the whole legal system.

Data: Legal Startups

Data is crucial for any business. Especially in the legal system, where lawyers and law firms have to handle a lot of sensitive information in a highly regulated business. In the past, methods to keep this information regulated have been outdated and very time-consuming. That is why legal startups are taking the charge and innovating in this field.

Post-Quantum offers various products that range from user authentication, nonrepudiation, fraud deterrence, data protection, ultra-secure communications and future-proof encryption. Siaro is an online platform that allows lawyers to get the information needed before the initial consultation.

It is primarily focused on divorce and separation cases. Apperio makes use of existing data to enable quicker and more accurate matter budgets, track them in real-time, review them wherever and whenever and it allows the user to analyse trends and benchmarks.

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CheckRecipient uses AI and machine learning to secure enterprise information across email networks. Finally, Arachnys is a platform that allows due diligence professionals to process AML, KYC, and other compliance checks in seconds. Plus it also assesses corruption risks, monitors supply chain risk, and performs asset tracking and recovery by giving emerging market data for research.

Miscellaneous: Legal Startups

Legal startups are innovating the whole legal sector. The areas mentioned above are some of the biggest where many legal startups are focused, but there are many other areas. Going into each individual one would take too much time, hence in this section, there will be four different legal startups. The first startup is Venncomm, which has developed a mobile solution designed to improve the way organisations communicate and simultaneously reducing costly overheads.

Then there is Encompass, that has developed various products that range from: research prospects, onboard new customers and review existing customers, reduce the time, cost and risk involved in due diligence and demonstrate compliance to regulators. The third startup is called Juralio.

It has developed a product which can map processes, activities and costs, collaborate with each other and non-lawyers, plan and price more accurately and transparently. The final startup is called 3Kites, a consultancy company that provides help based on a combination of both legal and IT skills and experience.

Final Words: Legal Startups Strike Back

With legal startups at the front of innovation, the legal sector has been rapidly changing for the better. All these new innovations (marketplace, automation, data, compliance, ediscovery and other) have opened up the legal sector to greater efficiency and more transparency.

Consequently, lawyers have more time to focus on what matters, improving the customer’s value. Thus benefiting both parties! 

Got a legal startup you need help with? Then why not speak with a qualified lawyer for free about your situation.

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