We hear a lot about US and UK initiatives in legal tech land, and when it comes to Western Europe, countries such as Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and several Nordic nations, especially Sweden, often hit the headlines.
When it comes to France, the impression on this side of the Channel may be that there is little going on. But that would be wrong. There is in fact a very healthy and dynamic legal tech scene in France, including home-grown legal AI companies such as Predictice and blockchain-based startups such as Ipocamp, to name just a few.
There are also several groups driving legal tech forward, from the Paris Bar Incubator to Assas Legal Innovation, which is an association founded in 2017 by Paris II Panthéon-Assas students in order to promote innovation in the legal field.
A classic example of ‘le legal tech‘ in action can also be seen in Seraphin.Legal, a group of innovators based in central Paris. Artificial Lawyer caught up recently with Thibaud Tancréde and Gibran Freitas, who help run the organisation.
Freitas is also co-founder of the Assas Future of Law group and the co-founder at Legal Tech Africa (see more below).
‘We host each month ‘Legal apéritifs‘, where lawyers, students, magistrates meet for the occasion. The aim is to give the opportunity to all members of the legal tech community to know each other,’ Tancréde says.
They do a variety of things, such as advising lawyers on innovation and they also run short courses. And there is in fact one going on right now that is widely supported by the French legal tech ecosystem (although there will be many more in the future, if you would like to attend).
The Legal Tech Lawyer Academy, which is a two week-long course and completes on Friday, covers areas such as legal data management, what is actually going on in the world of Francophone legal tech and how to run a legal tech development project.
They also help run something called LIP, or Legal Innovation Paris, which is a legal tech incubator, which has ten startups inside it already covering areas such as as IP, Privacy Tech, HR, labour law.
Tancréde says: ‘Seraphin.legal is an alternative legal and digital structure. Our mission is to meet the legal needs of innovators and the digital needs of lawyers.’
‘Seraphin.legal is also a startup firm based on a shared foundation. This foundation offers standards, privileged access to data sets (company data, intellectual property data) and application bricks (contracts, intelligent forms, litigation management), as well as shared support functions (accounting, legal services, human resources management),’ he adds.
In short, it’s a one-stop-shop for all your legal innovation needs. And, if that wasn’t enough, they also help to drive a pan-Africa legal tech group, Legal Tech Africa. The group helps spread legal innovation knowledge and supports hackathons as a means of doing this.
And in fact, there is a major hackathon in Algeria, co-organised with fellow French legal tech company, LegalDoctrine, which will take place on the 18th and 19th of July. It may be short notice, but if you happen to want to take a trip to Algeria, then check out the application form.
But, that is not all. Tancréde and Freitas note that they and their colleagues also take part in several other projects:
– Consortium e-justice: law think-tank which works on the legal programme of the French President, Emmanuel Macron. This organisation reunites key people in the law community (judges, legal techs, university professors, legal publishers) to establish the digital public service of the Justice Ministry.
– Privacy Tech: Privacy Tech is a collaborative innovation project designed to identify, promote and co-develop legal and technical solutions for the protection of privacy on the Internet.
– Legal Design: initiative of Privacy Tech on privacy policies, by M. Thomas Saint-Aubin (CEO of Seraphin, and President of Privacy Tech) wanted to simplify the information on data uses (collect, storing, re-use) for the benefit of web users.
So, there you go. Never say that France is not getting involved in legal tech. Artificial Lawyer would love to see more connections between the French legal tech world and the UK’s tech scene, given we are just a short train ride apart these days.
How about an Anglo-French legal tech meet-up group? We could alternate meetings in Paris and London, and share ideas (and fine wines)? Are there any law firms with offices in the UK and France out there that would like to help support such an idea? Let me know what you think.