Final yr noticed the expansion of curated authorized tech platforms leveraging the chance to assist legislation corporations and company authorized departments establish the merchandise that greatest match their necessities and budgets.

Joanna Goodman

These embody Reynen Court docket, which represents a number of of the world’s greatest legislation corporations; LexFusion, which curates better of breed merchandise for corporations and authorized departments; PartnerVine, a portal for purchasing and promoting authorized merchandise; and several other vendor app shops, whereby authorized tech’s massive suppliers give their prospects fast entry to companion services and products, and different instruments and functions that add on to or combine with their platforms. The success of this method is more likely to be decided by interoperability between the techniques and instruments that make up legislation corporations’ more and more advanced tech stack.  

Moreover, as corporations transition their core techniques to the cloud, they discover that it’s simpler to change between services and products. Putting in and updating on-line techniques doesn’t require the identical dedication of time and price as on-premise merchandise.

Reimagining the longer term

The pandemic has shifted legislation corporations’ tech priorities for 2021. Whereas profitable start-up incubators and breakaway legislation agency tech companies had been nonetheless going sturdy in 2020, legislation corporations centered on establishing techniques and customers for dependable, safe distant working. This yr, they’re turning their consideration again to innovation as a driver of aggressive benefit.

Briefing’s annual Authorized IT Landscapes survey requested legislation agency IT and enterprise companies leaders to call their high three applied sciences for bettering work effectivity and agency competitiveness. The responses had been predictable: ‘The place AI and automation as soon as dominated, it’s now collaboration that comes out high (tying with AI and workflow as engines of effectivity). That’s maybe not shocking when you think about that collaboration has been important for corporations pressured to carry out in varied methods whereas managing massively dispersed groups.’

These findings spotlight a possible benefit for authorized tech rising from the pandemic: digital transformation and expertise adoption have opened a window of alternative for legislation corporations to introduce new instruments and techniques to a extra receptive person group. It’s fascinating, due to this fact, that the report’s ‘gateway to the longer term’ space of the effectivity/competitiveness grid, which identifies ‘applied sciences to observe’, reveals low-code/no-code platforms with the highest rating for competitiveness, whereas automation is the excessive scorer for effectivity.

‘It isn’t about legal professionals changing into coders; it’s about encouraging curiosity and enabling folks to experiment and create prototypes of their concepts’

Emma Sorrell, Burges Salmon

Virtually a yr on from the primary nationwide lockdown, many corporations see digital transformation and tech adoption as a springboard for innovation. Burges Salmon in Bristol is one instance. ‘Our Planning Forward crew is main a Way forward for Work Re-imagination workstream to make sure we establish and ship on the alternatives offered by this once-in-a-generation accelerated adoption of expertise,’ says innovation supervisor Emma Sorrell. She provides that Re-imagination is concentrated on two views: how legal professionals work and the way they ship their companies.

Social animals

Lockdown has renewed curiosity in social media platforms. Clubhouse, the invitation-only audio platform, has reportedly raised $1bn in funding. And LinkedIn has prolonged its exercise past a web based Rolodex/job web site. Johnny Shearman, head of data and authorized companies at Signature Litigation and founder at content material advertising and marketing and technique consultancy JD Authorized, presents 4 suggestions for getting worth from LinkedIn:

  • Flip up. Publish recurrently, not simply when you’ve gotten one thing to announce. Select a subject that sparks debate however isn’t polarising.
  • Interact. In the event you learn a publish that pursuits you, soar into the feedback and have your say.
  • Learn feedback and reply. ‘In the event you had been attending an occasion, you wouldn’t simply throw your corporation card on the desk and run away,’ says Shearman. ‘You’d community and be a part of conversations to attach with others. Apply the identical method on LinkedIn.’
  • Observe up! I linked with Johnny Shearman for this piece after he was featured on the Legally Talking podcast. 

Prefab apps

Low-code/no-code platforms enable legal professionals with none information of coding to get entangled in creating revolutionary tech options.

Sorrell refers back to the perennial debate about whether or not legal professionals have to code: ‘For me, it’s not about legal professionals changing into coders; it’s about encouraging curiosity and enabling folks to experiment and create prototypes of their concepts. That is the place no-code automation is available in – enabling legal professionals to discover constructing their very own functions with out writing code. These platforms may also foster collaboration between legal professionals and technologists by placing the expertise within the arms of the subject material specialists.’

At this yr’s B-Progressive Week, the agency’s annual (inner) innovation and expertise occasion (which for the primary time was run nearly), Burges Salmon collaborated with no-code enterprise course of automation software Autto. ‘We ran a problem for our trainees to work in groups and ship a prototype workflow or client-facing app,’ explains Sorrell. ‘It was an important success, producing quite a lot of concepts and inspiring our future legal professionals to suppose creatively about revolutionary methods of delivering authorized companies. It confirmed the facility of participating with expertise and the way material specialists can lay the foundations to create a minimal viable product that we will take ahead.’  

Ian Broom is CEO and co-founder of Fliplet, which has been working with legislation corporations to develop apps that allow folks to return to their places of work (both full-time or sometimes) in a Covid-safe manner. ‘For instance, if there’s a Covid case in considered one of a agency’s regional places of work, the app will notify everybody who works in that location that the workplace might be closed till it’s secure to return. Different capabilities embody QR scanning so that folks can examine out and in.’ The app fulfils each employers’ and staff’ duties and applies an applicable stage of communication to totally different person teams.

Fliplet builds templates for app creation with a drag-and-drop interface that features widespread options resembling notifications primarily based on person profiles. This works properly for inner apps, however in the case of apps that ship authorized recommendation and steerage corporations have to transcend an ordinary template to face out from the group. The Fliplet crew works with legislation corporations to develop bespoke client-facing apps which are designed for particular eventualities and customers. Broom highlights their work on branded legislation agency apps that assist legislation agency shoppers handle daybreak raids as a typical use case.

Nevertheless, the truth that a platform doesn’t require coding does essentially make it simple or simple to develop and roll out an app to the agency and/or its shoppers. ‘It is very important outline the event course of and handle totally different ranges of dependency,’ explains Broom. ‘Whereas the return to the workplace app is constructed on a simple template, many corporations need to develop their very own bespoke instruments, so we added low-code functionality supported by person steerage, in addition to superior developer instruments for energy customers and CIOs who might need to add further options round techniques integration and knowledge safety.’

Rick Seabrook, founding father of digital transformation consultancy Panoram, and former UK managing director at no-code platform Neota Logic, agrees. ‘No-code doesn’t imply that the typical particular person can decide up the instruments and use them. No-code platforms are helpful for prototyping concepts, rapidly creating proofs of idea and growing intuitive apps that resolve single-issue issues; however as quickly as you need to construct integration with different techniques as a part of a broader workflow, or a software that shoppers can pay to license, their functionality is rapidly exhausted,’ he explains.

Knowledge is a key consideration. ‘Standalone apps create knowledge silos. If the app collects consumer knowledge, you could take into account how that knowledge is secured, the place it’s saved and the way it’s built-in into the agency’s observe administration instruments,’ provides Seabrook.

Sorrell’s expertise displays this. ‘At Burges Salmon, we use a low-code automation platform to develop and deploy safe client-facing options, and we’re wanting into including no-code platforms to our toolkit,’ she says. ‘However whether or not the platform is low-code or no-code, we have to adhere to the phrases of our procurement course of, for instance in relation to securing consumer knowledge.’

Whereas low-code/no-code functionality is nice for resolving fast points and facilitating innovation, what are the implications for the remainder of the agency’s IT stack? Seabrook believes that these seemingly simple prefab options will both create a number of silos or require further layers of expertise to take care of interoperability. ‘It’s fast and comparatively simple to construct a standalone product or a proof of idea,’ he says. ‘Nevertheless, points come up whenever you need to scale it up or join it to different techniques. There comes some extent at which you could resolve whether or not it’s price remodeling it from the underside as much as embody hyperlinks to different techniques, safety and knowledge safety.’  

However points round legacy and interoperability, wholesale cloud adoption offers legislation corporations the power to change round their expertise extra simply and at decrease value, tailor their tech stack exactly to their operational necessities and adapt rapidly to new developments and priorities. No-code/low-code platforms give legal professionals the instruments to rapidly progress innovation concepts into observe, even when further improvement is required later. So perhaps 2021 is the yr when agility – one other longstanding authorized tech buzzword – turns into actuality.