In the early 2000s the most dynamic legal technologies were being built for litigators — from legal research services to practice management software to e-discovery tools. Traditionally, transactional attorneys have not had a rich set of technologies to support their deals. However, deal lawyers are increasingly seeing technologies built specifically to augment and automate aspects of their work.
With that trend in mind we thought it would be helpful to dedicate a series of posts to describing technologies available for transactional attorneys.
Technology isn’t new to the legal profession. In fact, Microsoft and LexisNexis claim that attorneys still spend 90% of their time in Microsoft Outlook and Word: However, neither Outlook nor Word were created with lawyers or legal use cases in mind.
In the last decade we’ve seen a proliferation of technologies for the legal services industry. Bob Ambrogi’s legal startups list and Stanford CodeX's Techindex each contain around 700 startups disrupting different aspects of the legal industry.
It’s a positive sign that startups are recognizing the opportunities to serve the specific needs of law firms and in-house legal departments. Attorneys’ needs may not be unique, but there are certain must-haves with legal software. Attorneys have significant ethical obligations, including requirements to keep client information secure and confidential. In addition, attorneys have to closely collaborate with multiple outside parties — from clients to advisors to opposing counsel — each of whom should have different access to work product.
Legal technologists are building off of the rapid development of software in other industries to bring cutting edge technologies like artificial intelligence and the blockchain to the legal field. But rather than focus on these underlying technologies themselves, this series will organize our discussions around specific products that are being applied to attorneys’ practices today and categorize those technologies based on where they can impact the practice of law — e.g. drafting, negotiating and executing agreements.
Because these technologies were built to provide distinctive applications for transactional attorneys, they not only help deal attorneys to get their jobs done but also help them do their work more effectively and efficiently, offer a competitive edge over competition, or provide a better experience for clients. These new legal technologies hold the promise to significantly change the structure of transactional practice groups and the practice of law for transactional attorneys.
Here’s a roadmap to the categories of technologies we’ll be covering in this series:
- Virtual Data Rooms
- Diligence Automation
- Document Assembly
- Contract Review
- Market Comparisons
- Document Comparison
- Negotiation Platforms
- Digital Signatures
- Closing Management
- Document Management Systems
- Contract Management Systems