Written by Valentyn Pivovarov
Legaltech is shaking the foundations of the legal industry. It is probably one of the fastest-growing industries, and its products help to solve the problems of millions of people all around the world. In many countries, including the US, the share of legaltech is about 5% from the general market of legal services so far, but it grows rapidly. For example, according to forecasts, the legaltech market will grow average by 10% in the next few years and this figure would continue to grow more and more.
In addition to creating products that solve people’s daily problems, the community of professionals working at the interface of technologies and law is also growing. There are several reasons for this:
- Lawyers realize that jurisprudence is being transformed and that they must use technology if they are want to survive professionally.
- Automation replaces lawyers in the simpler stages. For example, you don’t need a lawyer any more to apply for registration of a trademark, consult on civil issues, or draw up a document. All these can be done through chat-bots, mobile applications and online platforms in a few minutes.
- The number of people in the world who cannot afford legal advice remains very high. Even in the US, this figure reaches 80% in civil affairs. One can imagine how high this percentage is in less-developed countries. The main reasons are the high cost of services, lack of time and distrust of unfamiliar lawyers. All these issues can be solved by legal-tech products.
Consequently, all legaltech products can be divided into two main groups: those that solve the problems of lawyers and law firms by optimizing their work processes, and those that solve the problems of users.
Legaltech began to emerge in the US. In 1977, the first legaltech company LexisNexis appeared, which provided access to multi-branch databases.
In 2012, a global non-profit community of lawyers, IT professionals and others who work at the interface between technology and law appeared in New York, known as Legal Hackers. Then several students at the Brooklyn Legal Incubator and Policy Clinic (BLIP) and their professor Jonathan Askin attempted to answer the question: How can lawyers use technology to predict and resolve legal and political issues?
To answer this question, the students held the first hackathon of legal innovation in history at the Brooklyn Law School. According to the results of the hackathon, the participants organized a meeting called New York Legal Hackers. The main goal of the community called to change the justice system using technology, and unite all who promote and create legal tech by organizing hackathons, conferences, workshops and international summits.
After New York, the idea was picked up in Washington. Since then, the movement has spread rapidly across the US and moved on to other continents. Now the community has more than 80 chapters all around the world.
In Europe, legaltech has only developed more recently, but has already achieved great things. Among the CIS countries, the first chapter appeared in Kyiv in April 2017 and called Kyiv Legal Hackers
May 2017. Kyiv. The community Kyiv Legal Hackers organized the first hackathon of legal innovations in Eastern Europe, which brought together participants from Ukraine, Russia, and also guests from Germany and the Netherlands and more than 200 legaltech enthusiasts as a whole. In the final, 15 teams presented their ideas and the first place took the team from Moscow and Kharkiv with the app for seed investors to make sure their startups get their legal stuff in perfect order right from the beginning. Also on the hackathon appeared project which later was recognized as on of the best legaltech innovations by the version of HiiL (Hague Institute Innovation in Law) and received a grant on the development. Such event undoubtedly open new opportunities for ideas.
August – November 2017. Moscow. Inspired by hackathon in Kyiv, part of the winning team decided to launch Moscow Legal Hackers in early August. In November 2017 legal tech hackathon was held also by Moscow Legal Hackers community. It was the first in the Russian history hackathon of legaltech innovations and gathered about 150 people from different regions of Russia, consolidating local legaltech community. Later, the project-winner of the Moscow hackathon became a resident of the Skolkovo innovation complex. The rationale of the project – an automatic extraction of data from document for transferring in ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). This saves large businesses up to 90% of the processing time of incoming documents.
December 2017. Minsk. After the events in Kyiv and Moscow, Legal Hackers Chapter was opened in Minsk and their local team also started to organize legaltech meetups, conferences and hackathons. In early May community held the Factory of legal bots, at which participants created 9 Bots, whose purpose to deal with the problems, which disturbs people around the world.
May 2018. The next European step on the way to the promotion of legaltech was the fact that the organizing team from New York decided to hold the first ever European summit that took place in Odessa on May, 24-26. The Summit was organized by Kyiv Legal Hackers and gathered legaltech enthusiasts from more than 10 European Countries, CIS, US and Canada, who shared their experiences and the peculiarities of the development of industry in each country. The participants discussed how innovations change justice on the examples of legaltech products, the relevance of modern legal education, transformation of the ICO market according to new regulatory issues and much more.
May 2018. Chisinau. The next city which we are happy to help open their communities was Chisinau Legal Hackers in Moldova. The grand opening took place during the EU Legal Hackers Summit in Odessa and Chisinau Legal Hackers became the first chapter, which was opened offline with the founder of Global Community.
On the whole, in the 2017 appeared more than 20 new chapters around the world from the US to New Zealand. So the number of people who inspired by legaltech around the world is impressive and it’s also growth. The geography of events is also constantly growing and one of the international summits will be held this year in Bogota (Colombia) in 2019.
One of the great values of the community is that it opens up opportunities not only for international networking, but also for new legaltech products in any corner of the world. «We are explorers. We are doers. We are Legal Hackers». It’s the motto of the global community. We’re looking for pressure points of justice in different parts of the world and create products that successfully solve problems that worry millions of people. ?ommunity actively develops not only offline, but also maintains a constant online activity in groups in Telegram and in Slack, disseminates ideas in Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, gathering around each chapter more and more enthusiasts.
I believe that Legal Hackers is really the first legaltech-unicorn. And this can easily be measured by the enormous level of influence that the community has in the world. Also, the community can join anyone, whose goals are to make justice accessible and to spread an idea of legaltech all around the world.
Valentin Pivovarov – co-founder of legaltech startup PatentBot and organizer of Kyiv Legal Hackers – a part of a Global Community of specialists works at the intersection of law and technology.