Blockchain

Evolution of Law And How Lawyers Can Engineer A Fair Society
Evolution of Law And How Lawyers Can Engineer A Fair Society 1024 576 Raymond Blijd

How many laws does it take to run one of the most digital advanced economies in the world? I stumbled onto some interesting figures while looking for an answer. Perhaps the most significant: Do we need any laws to manage human behaviors? And if not, how does law need to evolve to ensure a fair society. Here’s the story behind Evolution of Law slides and how to engineer law.

Law Ecology

How many laws do we need?  in the Netherlands, we have a public law database: Wetten.nl and performing an empty search would reveal about 15,000+ pieces of legislation (inc. treaties) to date. Each piece of legislation represents one or more articles totaling 217,500+ articles. 

The largest piece of law is the Corporate Finance Law and has 1231 articles. Robolaw Is A World Without Law“, hinted that the most significant part of the law was focused on regulating the flow of money. These numbers seem to back this up.

Surprisingly, finance wasn’t the largest area of legislation. When sorting laws by a number of articles, I noticed vehicle and traffic laws near the top. So running another search revealed that Finance represents 2% and Vehicle & Traffic 7% overall. Meaning, it takes more rules to manage the movement of humans as opposed to money.

 Litigation Economy

Why do we go to court? In the Future of Law, I discovered that 70% are civil court cases so I was curious to see how these breakout by area of law. While I initially found 55% of case law research dealt with divorce, the reality is that courts are actually literally buried in personal debt.

Courts handle about 85% family law cases annually, from which 52% deals with private estates. This is largely due to the rise of the independent contractors and subsequent bankruptcies.  Below chart shows the impact of business versus personal cases brought before the courts over the past 5 years.

The 17% increase in private court cases above also illustrates the significant shift in litigation away from big law to micro law.  The economy of business law is shrinking since more ‘businesses’ are actually privately backed or crowd-sourced ventures run by, and staffed with independent contractors. These ‘people’  will likely have a more practical approach to law and more sophisticated taste in legal services. Most importantly: they may not even be able to afford the legal services based on the current business models.

Check out the rest of the charts.

Legal Engineering

Why should we engineer law? The Evolution of Law explains the phenomena and illustrate the impact on the current legal construct and its contingent economy. Every enterprise ran on a platform of law (rules and articles) which made it possible to do business in a certain geography. Now, they run on platforms of code (apps and networks) making it possible to connect supply and demand globally. These platforms can operate entirely outside the law. Better yet, they can actually run their own economy independent of any monetary or tax jurisdiction. So even if lawmakers catch up and codify, they can never keep pace and modify.

How do we engineer law? Legal professionals should surrender prose & speech and start coding law into platforms. It’s a natural progression for justice. If app developers and platform builders want to create trust between strangers, they’ll have to honor the code between humans. Blockchain is a great example of the need to engineer trust. Albeit Blockchain is the most popular, it isn’t the only way. Lawkit is a more approachable model to demonstrate how app developers may think of constructing transparency and fairness into their products. Yet, it will take an awakening and an army of Legalpioneers to ensure a fair market for 3.35 billion entrepreneurs.

2015 Year in Review: The Cool, The Beautiful & The Intelligent
2015 Year in Review: The Cool, The Beautiful & The Intelligent 1024 576 Raymond Blijd

2015 was quite an eventful year in legal tech. Here’s my shortlist in random order:

But 2015 is also the year legal startup growth stalled:

  • In October, I didn’t de-dup startups tagged as both legal tech and legal so the real numbers aren’t that spectacular.
  • In 2014 (337), we had a 56% increase compared to 2013 (215). 2015 is just 2% (349)
  • Yet, tagged as Legal Tech (139) almost doubled compared to last year (78)

I made a breakdown of types of legal startups registered in December 2015 on Angel.co and it seems that:

Dec 15 AngelList2
  • But Angel.co isn’t the only place to hunt legal startups. Mattermark.com (paid) of CB Insights (paid), or Dealroom.co (freemium) are also excellent sources;
  • Heck, there even is a dedicated legal startup tracker called LawHackers.co;
  • And I also discovered that there are about 946 in the US while roughly 1405 legal startups come from outside The States (Source: Mattermark.com, Dec. 9, 2015);
  • I was also happy to see a cool tax startup make it on ProductHunt;

And now for the moment you all have been waiting for: Legalcomplex awards for the coolest, the most beautiful and the most intelligent legal tech of 2015…envelope please

The Cool

Blockchain

I feel this is the beginning of something epic for the internet and the law.

Honorable mentionMachine Learning

The Beautiful

Kresolve

I was smitten by the use of gif’s to convey the beauty in legal.

Honorable mentionZocDoc

The Intelligent

Lawbot.co

I see brilliance in its simplicity and power of its potential.

👏 👏 👏

Disclosure: This review was compiled based on my 2015 stats from Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, My Blog, Medium etc so it’s completely bias and non-scientific.😇

3 Epic Insights From Hunting Legal Apps on Product Hunt
3 Epic Insights From Hunting Legal Apps on Product Hunt 1024 640 Raymond Blijd

In “Who will beat Law Firms?” I mention that Product Hunt had just 22 legal apps. That number seemed a bit low so I went back to see if I could find more. And what I found was Epic. Here are my 3 main insights while collecting legal apps on Product Hunt.

Product Hunting

Product Hunt (PH) is a site were new products get submitted and Product Hunters can upvote them. This creates a daily list of most popular products. The main difference between startups syndicates, crowdfunding or other marketplaces is:

a) PH primairily hosts  real products you can start using right away;

b) And this makes the PH experience, one grounded in practice rather than promise,

First, I did a couple of searches with keywords like “legal” or “law” but my results missed some valid products. I then expanded my keywords and browsed other collections, which is another cool feature of PH. These collections broaden my horizons and boosted serendipity. This resulted in a tangible “Legal Tech Hunt” collection with 65+ apps which nicely offsets my fantasy “Legal Visualizations & Designs” board on Pinterest.

My Cool is Cold

What struck me was the fact that cool products had little upvotes. Premonition uses AI to find the best lawyers, how cool is that! It had only 1 vote 😢…so I gave it one more.  ROSS, an AI powered Attorney, did ok so I guess AI may only be suitable for judging the law but not the lawyers. But it’s not just me, legal industry darlings like Ravellaw or Casetext got relatively little love from Product Hunters. I initially found 22 apps because I was looking for particular legal characteristics. Eventually, I  found more legal apps when I stopped looking for legal apps.

Insight: I view products from the perspective of a Practitioner of Law and not as a Consumer of Law. Therefore, I subconsciously love the things that would only work for me.


epic 2

Practical is Popular

Topping the collection are straightforward legal apps for entrepreneurs. The top 3 are products which basically replace lawyers and empower consumers of law. Actually, 2 of them look similar to a well-known Legal Unicorn. The rest of the list is sprinkle with simple tools that help you avoid lawyers and court battles e.g. Clear helps you find and clear potentially damaging social media posts. Or Clerky which makes startup legal paperwork painless. These products make legal complexity invisible and anybody can use them right away.

Insight: Product hunters like practical, simple and fast. Their psychology towards legal services has evolved and so have their product preferences.

 

epic 3Blockchain is Epic

I’ll be honest, I’m no expert on Bitcoin nor Blockchain but I think it’s awesome. I’m not the only one getting all warm and giddy 😍 at the promise this technology embodies for the legal market. Examples like Ascribe or Bitproof help protect Intellectual Property with Blockchain. Any Intellectual Property Attorney, with enough alcohol running through their veins, will admit that copyright law in a digital space can actually not exist. Computers copy, it’s how they operate on every level. So if the law states it’s illegal to copy then we would never be able to use the Internet. No lawyer nor contract can protect you from actual digital theft, but cryptography can. It’s Epic.

Insight: Technology is not only making legal protocols invisible, it’s making them redundant in a digital space.

 

epic 4

Summary: Legal professionals may not be the best at picking the hottest apps. Hunters (and future CEO’s) prefer the most practical apps to accomplish business goals and personal fulfillment. In the end, technology will make the need for legal protocols obsolete. Now before these exquisite specimens get sued into extinction…Come hunt with me…

🎯 Legal Tech Hunt

 Legal Visualizations & Designs