09 October 2020

CLI - Thought of the month for October

Published on 09 October 2020

Every month there is an overwhelming amount of content on the changing legal ecosystem – that’s right “ecosystem,” we’ve moved beyond “industry” and way beyond one single “profession.” And while we might not love the word, it does signal an important reality, that law firms and legal departments are now just two players in a multi-player, multi-disciplinary global legal market.

In that market, legaltech remains a huge focus. Even more so now that we have been “forced” to use a number of tools, processes and systems that we’ve actually had for a while but never had “the time” to optimize. Where we, and our clients, find ourselves today is different from what it was just 6 months ago. More sophisticated in what tech we use but still struggling with whether we have the right tech or even know how to make the best tech decisions.

Enter LexFusionLaw Sites (Bob Ambrogi) reported on October 1 about this new US consultancy, launched by “two industry veterans” and lawyers (Joseph Borstein and Paul Stroka), with the objective of providing state-of-the market briefings on legal innovation for in-house counsel and law firms, but first understand their needs and then making recommendations about products.

The product recommendations will be drawn from those tech companies that have been vetted by the consultancy. LexFusion represents only one vendor in each of seven specified areas: “Agiloft - contract lifecycle management, Factor - managed services, HaystackID- E-discovery and tech, Intelliteach - outsourced IT and financial services, Litera - legal workflow and workspace technology, Ping - timekeeping automation and Priori Legal - hiring project-based outside counsel.” It’s like a one-stop-shop for legal ops!

What’s interesting about this is what it signals about how the legaltech market has evolved (so much tech and so little time), that purchasers are feeling increasingly overwhelmed (but still time poor), and if you don’t want to buy a pre-existing platform where a number of these functionalities are under one company umbrella, then now there is a collaborative, co-operative independent alternative of complimentary technologies wrapped up in a blanket of customization.

This alternative also allows each vendor to remain fully focused on what it does well and combines this precision focus with a broader base that any one of them, alone, may be interested in or equipped to (read capabilities and capital here) grow organically. It also goes further than what legaltech member organisations offer or legaltech focused consultancies or all manner of tech demos, because it creates a link between innovation, tech as an enabler and business needs optimization.

I wonder how long it will be before this sort of “best friend” alliance expands? What the variations will look like? If these will challenge the growth of the global emerging legaltech platforms? Will global law firm alliances e.g. seek to work in a similar way with a group of preferred tech vendors and recommend them to their law firm members? Will legaltech companies identify this as an opportunity to create a number of new and competing alliances locally, regionally and globally? Will this lead to a further consolidation of legaltech vendors? What do you think, we would love to know?

We’ll be exploring these sorts of questions at our next series of Roundtables on “To tech, not to tech or is it how or which to tech?” in New Zealand (9 October), Australia (19 November) and Asia (11 December) – if you would like to attend, please contact us: