Australian Legal Tech Association (ALTA) Launch and Demo Day Wrap-Up
by Stevie Ghiassi, Founder, Legaler and President of ALTA.
It was always going to be a momentous week for legal technology with the world’s largest Global Legal Hackathon taking place in over 40 cities.
But for the Aussies, it was a double whammy with ALTA’s inaugural event and the launch of its Demo Day series, showcasing some of Australia’s best legal technology start-ups all on one stage, in very lawyer-like six minute-long demonstrations.
Hosted by Macquarie Bank at their Melbourne and Sydney headquarters and also supported by industry heavyweights Janders Dean and Elevate Services, the dual city tour was attended by a diverse variety of industry stakeholders including in-house legal departments, government, law societies, academics, multi-nationals and ‘techies’, whilst Big Law right through to NewLaw and even ‘tiny’ law were all well represented.
What emerged from the two days was the incredible depth of our home-grown talent with many commenting on the impressive diversity; the companies showing off everything from data-driven tools for in-house teams to even an AI powered ‘law firm without lawyers’; but most importantly, a true sense of community was born. ALTA had arrived.
The ideas, conversations and relationships that transpired during the coffee breaks, in the conference rooms, and that continued out the doors well after the final demo will have a lasting effect.
Everyone definitely left feeling more energised and optimistic about the local industry than ever. It’s clear that the stage is now set for more Aussie legal tech to breakthrough onto the global stage.
Here’s a quick recap of the presentations:
First up was myself, describing the technological progression from the PC era into the Blockchain era, which provided a platform for the company to announce the launch of the Legaler token, the first ever cryptocurrency for the global legal industry. Along with the news of the upcoming crowdsale, the company revealed Legaler Aid, the world’s first decentralised and autonomous legal charity, an organisation built entirely on computer code.
Jodie Baker, Founder & CEO of Xakia Technologies, asked the crowd to imagine that they were a General Counsel, each managing a team of 10, 50 or 200 lawyers. As GCs responsible for managing their company’s risk and legal resources, they are required to know who is working on what and for whom, and to communicate that information in a digestible format to their business. By demonstrating Xakia’s rapid data capture, Jodie took the crowd on a journey from an in-house legal team’s unstructured, individual to-do lists, to a beautiful collaborative interface with reports every business will love, and click-of-a-button legal data analytics for budget management, and identifying efficiency gains.
Jim Delkousis, CEO & Founder of PERSUIT, demonstrated a new and intuitive platform for in-house legal teams to source competitive proposals from law firms for all their external legal work. He showed how the PERSUIT platform took the pain out of the traditional RFP process and allowed organizations to manage their external legal spend in a way which was data-driven, predictable and scalable.
Stuart Clout, Founder & CEO, and former M&A Law Firm Partner lead with his views on the democratization of innovation to contextualise the state of the lawtech market, then unpacked the current technology paradigm for transactional lawyers before delivering the future state, thedocyard, the world’s most sophisticted end to end transaction management platform – built by deal advisors for deal advisors.
David Bushby, Managing Director of lawyer-matching platform Lexoo, announced their expanded reach of ex-BigLaw experts to over 650 lawyers in 37 countries – only three law firms in the world currently have a bigger international footprint.
Julian Uebergang, MD, Neota Logic APAC , talked about how Neota Logic is enabling a new wave of digitally native lawyers to create their own web based applications, without requiring coding skills. These applications can be configured to enable consumers and businesses to provide detailed information about a legal or compliance issue, and receive custom advice suited to their specific circumstances. Solutions can be monetised based on streamlining efficiency, or by targeting new business by leveraging the power of the internet.
Kicking off the 2nd session of the morning was LawPath’s CEO, Dominic Woolrych. Dominic demonstrated LawPath’s online platform for SMBs. Designed as a ‘one stop shop’ for small businesses and individuals the platform contains a document automation system, 750 strong lawyer marketplace and new company formation software for its 50,000 Australian users.
For those firms with workforces split over multiple offices, OfficeMaps was unveiled as a solution to both improve staff collaboration and reduce premises costs. OfficeMaps is a visual staff directory and office mapping solution that can help staff to find people, meeting rooms and free desks. With support for hot-desking and flexible work arrangements, Skype and Active Directory integration, OfficeMaps looks to be the solution for the modern workplace.
Take away the tedium, and minimise the risks, of reviewing draft contracts by letting machine learning do the heavy lifting. Michael Pattison, founder of ContractProbe, gave a live demonstration of ContractProbe reviewing a 30 pg shareholders agreement in less than 60 seconds and showed the serious problems that even a market standard document could hold..
Chris Painter presented DocAssist (see main picture above), a real time, interactive document automation system for Microsoft Word. No code. No macros. No templates. No worries. If you can edit it, you can automate it.
SeminarCasts explained their goal to supercharge professional development. Law firms still deliver almost all of their CPD material in person. Most lawyers want a more convenient offering that makes use of the technology they have in their pocket. SeminarCasts’ off-the-shelf platform for CPD delivery is a cost effective solution that benefits both firms and their clients.
Arnold Mitt presented Elevate’s flagship technology within their Enterprise Legal Management (ELM) suite. Cael Project is the world’s leading project management tool for law firms, now enabling buyers of legal services to access key information relating to their projects. Cael Project is used by a number of leading international and national firms resulting in reduced write-offs, better management to scope, and closer client collaboration.
Pricing professional services can be a bit tricky. Go too high and you lose the client. Go too low and you leave money on the table. Joel Barolsky, the creator of Price High or Low, shared how this new smartphone app can help inform pricing decisions and capture more value.
Tim Kirkman, Technical Co-Founder of LawSwitch started by introducing how LawSwitch uses legal chatbots to automate the legal client engagement process through law firm websites. Then Tim presented a live demo of a LawSwitch business structuring intake chatbot with its ability to book in an initial conference as part of the conversation, through to showing how it generates customized emails, and provides access to a client portal to accept files in preparation for the initial conference.
Stephen Foley, CEO and Founder, talked about making it easier for solicitors, in-house counsel and government departments to brief barristers. Fully operational in NSW and an enterprise version being developed Australia wide. Simply fill in a form and your request will go out to the chambers most qualified to respond to the practice area you have selected. Requests in by morning will be responded to by the end of the day. There is no cost for solicitors to use this service.
Next up was a presentation from Nick Fisher on the upcoming release of Lexico, a machine-learning platform for automating contract drafting and review. Nick talked about how his in-house and private practice experience pushed him to use software to create better, more reliable processes to service clients. Outlining some of the key features of the Lexico beta release, Nick also discussed the roadmap feature for the year ahead.
Contact Monitor founder Steve Tyndall, introduced Contact Monitor as a solution allowing firm’s to unlock the value of the client network and protect their commercial relationships. Without any data entry, lawyer training or desktop software, Contact Monitor is able to provide firms with live and accurate data to monitor succession planning efforts, the targeting of new clients, the tracking of referral networks and most importantly, to monitor key client relationships.
Amy McCann, Business Development Manager, discussed the benefits of using Arken, a cloud based document automation system, to produce estate planning documents such as Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney forms. Arken’s intelligent questionnaire triggers the automatic inclusion of clauses into the document in real time resulting in significant time savings when drafting documents and reduces the risks of inaccuracies in the final document.
Adrian Cartland, the creator of Ailira, discussed insights from the world’s first Law Firm Without Lawyers, how Ailira can bring low cost access to justice, and how firms and non-profits can benefit from capturing their knowledge in Ailira. Adrian also explained how Ailira’s research function, which has passed University Tax Law exams and was featured on ABC’s AI Race, can unlock access to firm’s otherwise inaccessible intellectual property.
As the official media partner of ALTA, Artificial Lawyer would just like to say: ‘Wow! Thanks, Stevie, that is an incredible way to launch ALTA. What a great collection of legal tech companies!’ Looking forward to watching the new wave of legal tech grow and grow in Australia and across the Asia-Pacific region.