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legal tech

2016 Year in Review: The Bold, The Bots & The Beautiful
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The 2015 year review featured the cool, the beautiful and intelligent. This year I like to honor the bold, the bots, and the beautiful in the legal industry. First some metrics.

Legal Startups

Notable numbers from 2016 as reported in The Hottest Summer & Legal Startups Charts:

  • 40+ average Legal Startups per month;
  • 50+ average Legal Startups per month between August-November;
  • 479 (Jan-Dec, 20) total # of Legal Startups registered this year;
  • The US (244) narrowly outpaced the rest of the World (235);
  • But not in February, March, June and September;
  • Helped by India (53), Canada (42) and..Australia (17);
  • California is by far the most prolific location (39) barely beating New York (35);

Legal Tech

Some Legal Tech specifics from 2016:

  • 11 Legal Tech startups from San Francisco make them leaders in 2016, nudging London (9) and New York City (8);
  • 66 number of legal tech startups from the US, subsequently India (22) and Canada (20);
  • Europe, on average (46-28) produced more Legal Tech than any other continent, followed closely by Asia (46-23);
  • 147 total # of Legal Tech startups created in 2016;

Other Tech tidbits:

 

LegaLCompleX

It’s been a crazy year in the LegaLCompleX studio:

While all of the above made me happy, one stood out in terms of community love ❤️.

Future of Law and Why Lawyers May Save Humanity on Slideshare

 

Awards

Now to the awards and the winner of the LegaLCompleX 2016…by popular vote, please…

The Bold: Get Paper

It’s the sheer ambition 💪🏽 that I find attractive: replace all legal with tech.

The Bots: Alyen and others

We may need to rethink the design, purpose, and even the names we give robots but they are here to stay.

The Beautiful: PrivaCeee

I won’t apologize for being bias but how can I not nominate my most beautiful creation 😍.

2016

As we head into 2017, please pause and reflect on the significance of 2016. The year 7-Eleven and Amazon quietly started autonomous deliveries while Uber is forced to pull their autonomous taxi’s. When the Breaking News app shuts down while fake news runs rampant. We said farewell to G.O.A.T. & Prince and settle into orange as the new black.

A Message To Legal Tech: 4 Signs Winter Is Coming
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After a couple of record breaking months during the Hottest Summer in Legal Tech,  I believe winter is upon us and here’s why.

#1 Lots of Legal, Little Tech

While Legal Startup numbers look spectacular, the reality is that the quality of startups is more of the same. Some geographies are doing better than others (see #4). However, the majority of registering startups are marketplaces, solo’s or niche practices that use simple & little tech. As the chart below illustrates, this year started very encouragingly. In January and February, Tech was winning. Yet in the heat of summer, the lead started to melt away. Clever company names will not disguise the fact, it is not tech you’re selling, it is just legal. This September we passed 40 again but don’t rejoice: since legal tech life should begin at 40.

#2 Lacking Creativity

There is only so much spin and juice one can put on “Uber for legal” before you start smelling the rot. So I like to give a nod to Paper, who aims to automate the legal workflow associated with creating your business. By putting the legal flow in a UI instead of documents and making lawyers an “In-App” purchase. They also launched their site with an SSL Certificate or more commonly known as HTTPS. I’m not a security expert but I do feel more confident when sites have https. This makes Paper very rare on Angellist and I’m hoping to see more of them.

#3 Startup Winter

Angellist is preparing for winter because of a decelerating startup scene. They are not alone as Y Combinator, the world largest incubator, is also changing strategies. Both CB Insights (image below) and Mattermark are warning of a slowdown.  So I’m a bit bemused by the fact Legal is jumping on the accelerator. It takes, at best, 4 years for a business to find traction and 5 to flourish or exit. Moreover, if your startup is selling to the legal professionals market beware. Law firms have notoriously long sales cycles and this will only become more fickle as market pressures mount on them.

winter-cbinsightsSo when the Pro’s pause, Legal steps on the gas. And that approach may work but I do see the benefits of breaking so bear with me..

***Mr. Robot Spoiler Alert***

While my head is still reeling from Mr. Robot season 2 finale, I captured an important message dubbed “Python Approach“. One of the characters explains that a python’s primary attacking tactic is to wait for its prey to come. Patiently tracking it over long periods of time and snapping it up when the time is right. As Dom states, Pythons can go up to a year without food.

******

In short, startups should not expect Capital to be heading their way, so it’s time to bootstrap and focus on the other C: Customers. Choose them well.

#4 A Bright Spot

There are bright spots, as seen in this video: Where do Legal Startups come from? In October, I’ll publish more stats so here’s a preview: it seems the rest of the world is picking up the slack and I see quality legal startups emerging from Asia and Africa. Diversity & necessity may be better drivers for quality startups than venture capital or accelerators.

Summer of 2016: The Hottest on Record for Legal Startups
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Last update: Feb. 13 2017

You may have missed it but June 2016 broke the single month record set this February with 44 legal startups registering on AngelList. Wait, there is more…

**Update Sep, 2:  Psst, in August we broke 56 **

Last year, I was curious to know how many legal ventures were seeking fame and fortune from the angels. In December, I wanted to know what types of legal operations would deliver us from hell. This June, I still noticed quite a few law firms masquerading but I’m expecting more startups to be aiming for the heavens. So I was pleasantly surprised by the June numbers. More so seeing May and June are historically not known for its highs.

June 2016 did not only break the record but we may have reached a tipping point: It can very well be the first time more startups registered from outside the US on AngelList.

Where do Legal Startups come from?

I first suspected Canada but a closer look revealed India making quite a surge. However, if we break it down in continents, the western hemisphere, specifically the Americas, still outweighs the rest…with a little help from South America.

Where to track more Legal Startups?

Recently, there has also been a flurry of legal startup trackers. Here’s a list of communities and enthusiast chasing startups:

I’m a member of the Legalpioneer community and since I couldn’t find similar listings, I created the last 2 Charts and Hunt lists. In doing so I realized that it’s particularly challenging to tag and categorize legal startups. Stanford and ‘Legal Tech – Mapping Disruption’ both have about 8 categories but differ on topics e.g. only eDiscovery, Research and Practice Management appear in both. In 2013, a Quora member listed 11 submarkets in the legal space but this was before the AI and Machine Learning era. Same goes for tagging: Stanford has 237 tags and Lawhackers around 69 after de-duplication. In short, we are in the midst of figuring out the Fog of Apps and after the dust has settled, we’ll know who solved the real pains.

Meanwhile, it’s great to see that we’re back on track in making this a summer to remember.

**Update Feb, 13 ’17: Germany and Australia tracker **

**Update Dec, 20: Robert J. Ambrogi**

**Updated Dec, 7: Y-combinator**

**Updated Aug, 5: Added Spain tracker**

**Updated Jul, 18: Canada  & CB Insights as trackers**

2015 Year in Review: The Cool, The Beautiful & The Intelligent
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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.😇

Legal Startups Charts
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Last updated: Feb. 16 , 2017