Just like Moneyball concepts changed baseball forever, perhaps the same may be happening in legal tech. Yes, legal tech companies are making more data and financial based decisions. But the old days seemed, well, more fun.
Another day, another announcement by a legal tech company of increased integrations, acquisitions, or consolidations. Monday, Reveal announced that it acquired Technically Creative. Tuesday it was MyCase announcing an integration with LawToolBox for rules based court calendaring.
Integration, acquisitions, and consolidation are all the rage in legal tech these days. We have seen FastCase partner with Visalaw.AI for a state of the art immigration case management platform. (October 25). On October 17, it was announced that Netdocs was acquiring Worldox. Clio recently announced advanced several third party app integrations. (October 10). Haystack acquired Business Intelligence Associates (September 7). Relativity acquired Heretic (August 29). BigHand acquired Digitory Legal (August 22).
LegalEase acquired CLM Gurus (August 22). DISCO has joined LexFusion (August 22). Litera acquired BigSquare and Micron systems (August 22 and 10)). LexisNexis announced an integration with CourtLink (August 12).
And this doesn’t count the outside equity money flowing into legal tech in the past few months. Hello Divorce raising $3.25 million. JusticeText raising 2.2 million. Oakley Capital acquiring the majority ownership of vLex. Tangibly obtaining significant pre-seed money.
All of this just since August 1: listing all that’s occurred since the pandemic would take more time and space than you, gentle reader, or I want. And there is more to come with rumors of another significant acquisition that may shake the marketplace even more.
So what? I’ve been involved in legal tech a long time and have never seen the number of combinations, integration, and the like as I have these past three years. To say the industry is maturing and morphing into something new and different would be an understatement.
Most were entrepreneurs and mavericks in the field. Many were just plain nerds. They were characters, energetic and fun
But what does it mean? I can remember walking exhibit halls and knowing most of the people there. Many were former lawyers looking to solve a problem or point of friction they had seen or experienced. Most were entrepreneurs and mavericks in the field. Many were just plain nerds. They were characters, energetic, and fun. Sure they wanted to make money, but most were there because they wanted something better or different than the practice of law. They wanted to serve and help their customers. It felt like we were all revolutionaries pushing the staid legal rock up the proverbial hill.
Now it’s different. More people from outside legal are coming in and applying a different set of rules, decision making criteria, and, I fear, culture. More attention to profits and bottom lines. More financial driven, less service driven (see my recent post on this issue). More desire to profit and less desire to change the legal world. Sure the presentations may be slicker and better, but I am not sure if service and devotion to customers are the same.
Under Steve Jobs, Apple made products that just worked. Now it seems like it makes products that are just more work
It’s a little like the difference between Apple under Steve Jobs and Apple under Tim Cook. Tim Cook’s Apple still makes good products but the energy, and sense of purpose and fun is not the same. Under Jobs, Apple made products that just worked. Now it seems like it makes products that are just more work.
I guess this kind of maturation process is inevitable and stems from the success and grit of those early in the field. Their efforts brought big money. Now we have to learn to live with it.
Tip of the hat to Bob Ambrogi and his blog, LawSites, from which much of the information for this post came.