As a lawyer, you want to be prepared for every case, client meeting or hearing. You know where to track down the relevant information you will need – be it the Blue Book or a client’s case file. But in a world where technology is playing an increasing role, it’s difficult to see where to go to stay up to date with the latest developments. Studying law at university always involved more in-depth lectures about Kantian Ethics than legal technology, and this is still the case on many LLB courses. Not to mention the dearth of tooling training for trainees when they begin work in a firm. Here at Clocktimizer, we love to stay as up to date as possible about legal tech goings on and in the interests of sharing the wealth here is our guide to ensuring you don’t fall behind the technology revolution.
This may seem self explanatory but is often a path rarely followed by lawyers. The University of Tilburg in the Netherlands is currently offering one of Europe’s best Masters in Law and Technology. In the US, Stanford Law also has a world class Law and Technology advanced degree with a look at both the law around technology, but also at the technology companies providing legal solutions. The University of Ulster’s fantastic new Legal Innovation Center offers a multitude of courses to refresh your legaltech knowledge. As a matter of fact, we at Clocktimizer will be speaking to this year’s students to give them an idea of both what our innovations do, but also about the wider ways technology is seeking to help lawyers and their clients. There are a huge number of specialist degrees, or even courses currently available to legal professionals looking to begin with the basics and get to grips with what is possible, so do a bit of research and find out what your nearest university is offering. Remember, Google is your friend.
Discover legal technology
There are a large number of companies, products and services available out there to help your practice. But which one to choose? If you do not want to test your google skills just yet, there are a number of websites available to keep you up to date with what’s out there.
The highlights: Bob Ambrogi has an excellent curated list of startups, including a short description of what each does to save clicking through each individual website. Stanford Law, once again, have also produced an encyclopedic list. Law Technology Today, an excellent website and overall great tool have an ‘In The Know’ section with insights into the various practice technologies available to lawyers.
Wading through websites and books may be a hassle, but chatting to innovators themselves (preferably over a glass of wine) is a much more engaging way of knowing what’s out there. Many organisations offer regular meetups often well attended by lawyers and developers, that give you the chance to really get to know a product. In the Netherlands the Dutch Legal Tech meetups have held sessions on everything from ROSS’s impressive AI, Clocktimizer (of course) to Trademark Now. Legal Geek, run by Jimmy Vestbirk in London has grown enormously with everything from hackathons (focused development sprints working on well defined projects) to conferences. Larger organisations like ELTA and Evolve Law also hold regular conferences and events targeted at legal tech entrepreneurs and thus are ideal places to hear about innovations before they become mainstream. And all this sits aside from the hundreds (if not thousands) of conferences now being held to connect businesses to their legal target market.
To be honest, the internet is the be all and end all for information about legal tech, coding and product design. It
should be; after all this revolution is a digital one. There are a million online videos, courses and websites that can teach you anything you want about technology and its legal applications. However, there are a few books that you can turn to to give yourself a base upon which to build. Most of them are also available as an e-book.
Much of the way good technology is built boils down to the ability to identify a real (not perceived) market need, to create user led design and to constantly A/B test improvements once you have delivered your first product iteration. Turn to ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries for an excellent examination of how you can move beyond existing products to your own bespoke solution. ‘Losing The Signal’ by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, a look at the rise and fall of BlackBerry, is a perfect example of the pitfalls to avoid should you embark on a product design journey – and since lawyers are the last to still use the famous BlackBerry phones, this is a must-read.
Finally, ‘The Phoenix Project’ by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford is a go-to book for an allegorical look at what lean and agile development is, how it improves working systems and how to remove much of the tension between Development and Operations teams. Whether you work in a large firm, or as in-house counsel, these books should give you an insight into how the world of legal tech fundamentally functions.
If you have any other tips about the best places to discover law, technology and the companies which span that divide then please get in touch. We’ll add them to the blog post as you pass them on.