Diamonds I Missed at LegalTech

Diamonds-I-Missed-at-LegalTechIt’s getting a bit late for a blog post about LegalTech; but never let it be said that I can resist a thrown gauntlet. So, when Logikcull‘s Andy Wilson tweeted that my review of companies that impressed me at LegalTech “missed the mark,” for a few of the companies that impressed him, I played right into his hand. I offered to write a follow-up offering my assessment of any vendor that would brief me in the following weekwhich brings us here.

For those that missed the first post: I highlighted six vendors that stood out at LegalTech by creating new value or expanding existing value propositions in the industry. The post was primarily spurred by some of the commentary I heard that there was “no new stuff” at this year’s show. Now, much of what I saw that was new involved minor updates to core functionality (I’m not sure what’s wrong with that by the way, except that the launch of ReInvent New York set a fever pitch for innovation). Nonetheless, be it a minor update or disruptive technology, I had no problem finding providers that stood out by doing something that expanded on the core functions or value propositions of their software.

The Diamond I Missed at LegalTech

Pictured: A challenge.

I am convinced that Andy agreed with me up until this point. I lost him because I didn’t capture all of the companies that impressed him. He identified three companies (Clio, SimpleLegal, and Logikcull). I was able to speak with two. Clio and I were unable to solidify a meeting at the time of writing. During the same week, I also spoke with DiligenceEngine and Jurify, who embody the same spirit. I have thus unilaterally modified the challenge to include them.

Let’s take a closer look at each:

- DiligenceEngine – targets a largely unaddressed need in corporate legal practice: merger and acquisition (M&A) due diligence. The solution incorporates machine learning, interface tools, and collaborative process management in a way that is well-suited to the M&A workflow. Other solutions such as Exemplify and Paper Software (not to mention the larger ediscovery market) offer some similar functionality, but do not address the particular needs and challenges of M&A work. Legal due diligence can be a lengthy and expensive aspect of an acquisition. Teams of lawyers (often associates managed by a more experienced partner or senior associate, billed hourly) pore through masses of similar documents to identify potential legal issues. DiligenceEngine automates some of this work and assists in other aspects. The resulting value proposition relates to increased efficiency as well as more accurate identification of substantive legal issues. As a result, the solution targets an area that is often ignored by legal technology vendors and stands to provide considerable gains over existing solutions.

- Jurify – also focuses on corporate practice, but with an eye towards building a research and knowledge library. The solution aggregates authorities crucial to corporate practice, ranging from statutory and regulatory resources to SEC guidance and NYSE rules. Further, the solution uses a well-structured taxonomy, in addition to a search-based navigation, to help users efficiently parse through needed sources. Jurify also incorporates related public commentary, such as blog posts and client alerts, as well as user-generated commentary to offer added insight and context to matters. In some respects, Jurify is similar to practice support tools like Thomson Reuters’s Practical Law and LexisNexis’s Practice Advisor or crowdsource-enabled research platform Casetext. In this way, the company is attempting to offer an enhanced value proposition over traditional tools by offering better answers more quickly, and, unlike Practical Law and Practice Advisor, Jurify’s research services are free. As with Casetext, the focus on user-generated content will mean that how much more efficient it can be as it expands to other practice areas will depend on its ability to grow its active community. However, the solution has the advantage of not being dependent on users to provide value. At the same time, its narrowed focus on a select audience should help the company to steadily build a dedicated user-base.

- Logikcull – made a splash at LegalTech as a cloud-based, mobile-enabled, ediscovery platform. Three aspects of the solution pieces stand out to me. First, the solution offers parallel processing of a great deal of the pre-processing preparation labor (de-duping, OCR, indexing, etc.) that typically represent serial processes. This goes a long way towards cutting down wasted time and effort. The second aspect is the solution’s “cull” feature, which represents an easy way to remove irrelevant documents from the pool of documents to be processed. Logikcull provides a straightforward interface that uses a mixture of tagging and process management capabilities to organize. The cull feature draws on this interface to allow efficient removal of irrelevant documents or document sets, which helps organizations reduce the amount of material that must be processed. The last aspect was mobile-functionality: the solution offers mobile device access and features mobile-enabled controls that help to extend mobile management of ediscovery. Some of these capabilities may be genuinely disruptive but, as with Jurify, the solution appears to offer an enhanced version of an existing value proposition. Logikcull does not necessarily offer a new use case over other ediscovery providers, but it does seem poised to offer greater value. However, it may be that Logikcull’s ease of use and accessibility will put it in the hands of organizations that have found ediscovery platforms to be out of their reach. In this way, the company may be pushing at the margins in the same way as SimpleLegal. As it stands, they are positioned to expand on the vision of painless ediscovery set by kCura’s Relativity.

- SimpleLegal – is a cloud-based legal spend management provider. A strict review of the solution’s functionality more or less checks the same boxes as the more massive legal spend management providers, with more than average attention to usability. Their core value propositions are more or less the same as well: (1) increased clarity in legal spend and (2) increased efficiency in payment processing. The difference comes in SimpleLegal’s target audience. As the company points out, spend management applications are often aimed at large organizations, with an ultimate end-user that is a billing specialist experienced in using such solutions. SimpleLegal aims at organizations that are just small enough to fall outside the traditional market, using a yardstick of about $20 million a year in legal fees. This results in a different design, aimed at an end-user that may deal with legal bills but is not solely focused on the task. From this standpoint, the solution’s deployment features (the focus on cloud delivery and usability) are what stand out, as they play a key role in reaching legal departments that face challenges in obtaining the resources to support a specialized application or an on-premise deployment. In this way, the company is expanding the addressable market for legal spend management, with the potential to bring greater insight to organizations that typically lack a sophisticated understanding of their legal spend. At the same time, the company reports traction within organizations with over $1 billion in revenue as well.

I won’t try to second-guess myself to say whether I would have included any of these companies in my prior post. I will say that all four manage to stand out as bringing something new to their respective spaces. That doesn’t necessarily require reinventing the wheel (or law), but it does involve doing something different enough to improve on what’s come before. These companies do that. The challenge for each is now reaching customers that are in the position to do the same… but more on that another time.

 

About David Houlihan, Esq.

David Houlihan researches enterprise risk management, compliance and policy management, and legal technology. He is an experienced advisor in legal and technology fields with a unique understanding of complex information environments and business legal needs.
Posted on by David Houlihan, Esq.

2 Responses to Diamonds I Missed at LegalTech

  1. David Houlihan, Esq. says:

    Great point, Nathan. The major needs in the space really cluster around sets of information management challenges (over and above what document management.) The movement we see in that direction is very encouraging.

  2. (founder of SimpleLegal here) Great write up! Happy to be included in the writeup alongside other great companies. I think particularly interesting is that despite focusing on different areas of the legal market, all companies on your list are really data companies. It’s no secret that data is creating huge value for firms and clients. Great to see companies helping to make it easier for all firms and clients to become data-driven companies.

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