Legal tech focus: Slaughters’ tech ally Luminance makes impact but battle for City elite wages

Legal tech focus: Slaughters’ tech ally Luminance makes impact but battle for City elite wages

Luminance has shot to prominence unlike any other UK legal tech start-up. But Hamish McNicol finds there is still plenty to do to break into the top of the profession

‘We’re changing things to the extent Excel changed the way accounting is done,’ Luminance chief executive Emily Foges proclaims. ‘You can’t imagine doing anything financial without it.’ Continue reading “Legal tech focus: Slaughters’ tech ally Luminance makes impact but battle for City elite wages”

Legal tech focus: Is Kira the real deal?

Legal tech focus: Is Kira the real deal?

AI contract analysis system Kira has been on a trying journey. Having landed $50m in funding, Hamish McNicol and Thomas Alan assess how much longer that journey could last

Noah Waisberg recently threw a diamond into an audience of more than 1,000 people. It was the annual Legal Geek legal tech conference in London. Public Enemy’s Don’t Believe the Hype blared as he took the stage. Continue reading “Legal tech focus: Is Kira the real deal?”

Comment: The great distraction – The innovation bandwagon has hobbled law’s market forces

Comment: The great distraction – The innovation bandwagon has hobbled law’s market forces

I used to believe the UK legal profession was more imaginative than it got credit for – now I find with an increasingly jaded eye what fresh thinking there is has become stretched ludicrously thin. The vast majority of technology and new models are deployed to make the existing law firm a little more efficient to defensively preserve partner profits.

On one level, you can salute the hard-headed focus on margin. On the another, there are increasingly ominous questions about what worship of margin above other considerations will do to the legal industry at a time of structural pressure. You do not have to be devotees of Peter Drucker or Clayton Christensen to believe that aspiring to run law firms on 50%-plus margins creates a huge amount of competitive space for new entrants to operate and forge potent beachheads. It seems highly debatable that the legal industry will over the next 10 to 20 years sustain large swathes of providers operating on such fat returns. Continue reading “Comment: The great distraction – The innovation bandwagon has hobbled law’s market forces”

The great distraction – The innovation bandwagon has hobbled market forces

The great distraction – The innovation bandwagon has hobbled market forces

I used to believe the UK legal profession was more imaginative than it got credit for – now I find with an increasingly jaded eye what fresh thinking there is has become stretched ludicrously thin. The vast majority of technology and new models are deployed to make the existing law firm a little more efficient to defensively preserve partner profits.

Continue reading “The great distraction – The innovation bandwagon has hobbled market forces”

The Last Word: The hard path to enlightenment

The Last Word: The hard path to enlightenment

As part of our autumn tech special, we asked partners, innovation heads and CIOs to give a pragmatic take on the state of law firm tech

Just do it

‘In the next year or two, people will stop talking about AI and just use it. AI will just be embedded in the way firms work – like computers or emails. I don’t think in the long term we’ll have the situation where AI alone gives some firms a sustainable competitive advantage over others.’
Kevin Harris, director of IT, Taylor Wessing Continue reading “The Last Word: The hard path to enlightenment”

Expectations high as Thomson Reuters and Slaughters ramp up legal tech incubator competition

Expectations high as Thomson Reuters and Slaughters ramp up legal tech incubator competition

Competition for access to legal tech start-ups is heating up as global multimedia giant Thomson Reuters and City blueblood Slaughter and May tool up for legal tech incubator launches early next year.

Thomson Reuters is accepting applications for its first dedicated legal tech incubator until the end of this month, with further details expected to be announced in December. The company is shifting its focus towards legal tech, having also hosted a fintech incubator in Zurich, following the sale its financial risk business earlier this year. Continue reading “Expectations high as Thomson Reuters and Slaughters ramp up legal tech incubator competition”

Start me up: Highly-rated legal AI platform Kira secures a record $50m in private equity backing

Start me up: Highly-rated legal AI platform Kira secures a record $50m in private equity backing

In a significant benchmark for the legal tech sector, leading AI platform Kira Systems has sealed $50m of private equity backing from New York-based Insight Venture Partners, as legal tech companies continue to prime for growth.

The investment, announced today (5 September), is the first external backing the AI company has received since its inception in 2011, with ex-Weil Gotshal & Manges associate and co-founder Noah Waisberg and Kira CTO Alexander Hudek initially funding the start-up themselves. The company saw year-on-year revenue growth of more than 100% for 2017. Continue reading “Start me up: Highly-rated legal AI platform Kira secures a record $50m in private equity backing”

Disputes Eye: A no-brainer? How tech can save your client £2m

Disputes Eye: A no-brainer? How tech can save your client £2m

With proposed procedural overhauls to disclosure going down like a lead balloon with the Law Society, technology is being touted as the much-needed saviour of time and money.

News in May that Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) declared itself the first firm to win a significant court victory on the back of using document review technology gave hope. Continue reading “Disputes Eye: A no-brainer? How tech can save your client £2m”

Government backs ‘under-funded’ legal AI and data technology with £20m contestable R&D fund

Government backs ‘under-funded’ legal AI and data technology with £20m contestable R&D fund

A £20m government fund for the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and data analysis in law, accounting and insurance is being welcomed as a positive step for what is ‘under-funded and under-thought’ research and development (R&D) in the legal tech space.

Earlier this month, the government launched the fund as part of a wider drive to address challenges through research funding agency UK Research and Innovation and its Innovate UK arm. It is the latest development in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund which focuses on improving UK science and business innovation. Continue reading “Government backs ‘under-funded’ legal AI and data technology with £20m contestable R&D fund”

Guest post: Is law a franchise or a business? Lessons from Warren Buffett

Guest post: Is law a franchise or a business? Lessons from Warren Buffett

I often look for knowledge outside of the legal profession to help me develop strategy for our [Microsoft’] legal business. I recently came across Warren Buffett’s 1992 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter, and this passage on franchises vs. businesses caught my attention:

An economic franchise arises from a product or service that: (1) is needed or desired; (2) is thought by its customers to have no close substitute and; (3) is not subject to price regulation. The existence of all three conditions will be demonstrated by a company’s ability to regularly price its product or service aggressively and thereby to earn high rates of return on capital. Moreover, franchises can tolerate mis-management. Inept managers may diminish a franchise’s profitability, but they cannot inflict mortal damage. Continue reading “Guest post: Is law a franchise or a business? Lessons from Warren Buffett”