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Channelling My Inner Legal Geek

NewLaw, Startups, In-house, LegalTech
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I’m back in Hong Kong having made a whirlwind trip to London for the Legal Geek movement last week.  I’ll be honest and say that it took a lot of convincing myself that as a bootstrapped startup, it was worth spending cash on the Hong Kong to London flight - but despite my reservations, I'm happy that it was 100% worth it!

First impressions - it wasn’t one of those profit-driven conferences where you are charged an arm and a leg to attend (and your soul if you are a ‘service provider’), but an industry-led and driven opportunity to share, collaborate and learn.

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The hipster Brick Lane Shoreditch venue created an inspiring buzz, but the energy and vibe of the FOLG’s (Friends of Law Geeks) who attended, participated, presented, exhibited and collaborated was the real winner. Many I spoke to who attended last year (I didn’t) said that it had definitely moved up a number of notches in terms of bodies, buzz and brawn. There were advanced warnings that this wasn’t going to be the stuffy conference (no ties allowed!) or a mere talkfest that we’re used to. Instead this was informative, fast-twitch, action-oriented legal innovation. Without a robot in sight...

Legal Geek Conference 2017 - Our Ethos

Big kudos goes to the brains and energy behind it, Jimmy Vestbirk (and his team), who’s sheer passion and energy is infectious – which was evident in the fact that it was sold out months before with many left on the waitlist. #LegalGeek trended on Twitter with 9million+ impressions – wow.

For me, the learnings, the expanding community of legal innovators and believers, and the opportunity and endless possibilities created ample amounts of motivation to keep at it, to build and grow KorumLegal to make legal solutions more cost-effective, accessible and less complicated for our clients and community.

My Top 10 Takeaways

  1. US$1.2 trillion industry - the legal services industry potential is massive, and the market share of that is currently dominated by BigLaw and TraditionalLaw but being reshaped by LegalTech and alternative legal services providers.20171017_103015351_iOS.jpg
  2. “Law is no longer just about Lawyers” – legal innovator Mark Cohen of Legal Mosaic noted that embracing technology and re-thinking the role of the lawyer as the imminent future of law.
  3. Progressive regulatory authorities in the UK, a fine example to law regulators worldwide – the forward-thinking approach of legal regulators was refreshing, inspiring and innovative. Here are a couple of examples:
    1. The Law Society (England & Wales) encouraging LegalTech solutions through a collaboration with UK investment firm, Seeders
    2. Solicitors Regulation Authority with their client-centric approach encouraging LegalTech and legal innovators to think about business first and regulation last!
  4. Will AI replace lawyers? Sort of... the advent of AI will not replace lawyers but will create better systems and processes and reduce work being done by some lawyers.
  5. Collaboration, consolidation, co-opetition is happening and encouraged - doing things collaboratively is the way forward, as shown by:
  6. Is BigLaw listening and doing LegalTech? – some are, but unsurprisingly, some are still not. Richard Susskind’s infamous ‘how do you tell a room full of millionaires they need to change?’ – was echoed a few times to emphasise the point!
  7. LegalTech and AI - many are flexing their AI muscle to show their LegalTech prowess, but it is still ‘weak AI’ without game-changing revolution right now. There’s a long way to go before Legal AI may replace lawyers.  For now, AI will help give a lawyers life back removing some of the research and data trawling tasks!
  8. The time for LegalTech is right now! – VC firms including Baldertons, Seedcamp and LunaCap Ventures have all been active in the space – although noted that the LegalTech market is still not ripe….yet. However $$ investment is on the rise!
Annual Global Legal Tech Financing Trend Graph

Image credit: CBINSIGHTS

  1. Funding vs Organic Growth - selling to clients and having a product or service that clients want and can scale is the ultimate aim. While VC funding is certainly a big leg-up, having organic revenue as non-dilutive capital helps to understand the client better and may be more attractive to VC later (if you want to go the VC route)!
  2. Data is key to everything - according to Karl Chapman of Riverview Law.  Another speaker noted ‘data-driven’ should be replaced with ‘data-informed’ - as data informs decisions, it shouldn’t drive them. Data ethics is becoming increasingly important.
  3. Bonus takeaway - there are some really, really exciting LegalTech offerings coming out of the UK.  Young (in body or mind!), entrepreneurial lawyers or law enthusiasts taking the plunge to create better, faster, cheaper, easier legal solutions for everyone.  These include Juro, Lexoo, Avvoka and ThoughtRiver to name a few.   Check them out!

So, was it worth the time and cost? Absolutely. And while I have never, ever considered myself a Legal Geek (!), after feeling the inspiration and vibe of other FOLG’s (Friends of Legal Geek), I am converted to the Legal Geek movement. I look forward to sharing geek-bites on LegalTech development in the Asia-Pacific region at next years event, Jimmy! 😊

Posted by Titus Rahiri

Titus is the founder of KorumLegal. He has a keen interest in technology and innovation.

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