Article La Banque des territoires published on June 27 2002 (article translated from French)
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From June 15 to 18, Paris hosted VivaTech, an unmissable event celebrating start-ups and innovation. Some legaltech were of course present. Eight of them were grouped under the France Digitale* banner in order to give more visibility to this ecosystem which is becoming more dynamic and attracting more and more investors. Indeed, the fundraising in 2021 has been quite numerous and the latest one, Dilitrust's €130 million, suggests that the legal world is accelerating its digitization after a certain delay compared to other fields (such as fintech or proptech). We therefore went to meet these legaltechs in order to understand "from the inside" the workings of this very promising market
Legaltech, an environment composed of heterogeneous actors
A LegalTech is a digital company that offers dematerialized legal services. But this definition covers very different businesses and some of them even flirt with other sectors such as cybertech or civitech. The diversity of the legaltechs present at Vivatech testifies to the broad scope of legal innovation:
• *Gino Legaltech is a contract intelligence and management solution that enables lawyers andto manage and automate the entire life cycle of contracts and their data
• *Examin is a digital assistant that helps all compliance actors in their work with Enrolment of employees and the tools required for their function (alerts, notifications, action plans, indicators, etc.)
• *Call a Lawyer is a platform that allows any individual to contact a lawyer immediately for a consultation at an accessible and transparent price;
• *Pluralism, a Lexbase Group company, is a SaaS1 (Software as a Service) that analyzes the content and tracks the speaking time of politicians in the media who are candidates in a French election;
• *BlockchainyourIP is a blockchain solution used to protect the creations and innovations of companies in a few clicks on the national or international territory;
• *Theolex is a legal intelligence engine that performs a national and/or international comparative analysis of international financial sanctions related to major legal risks
• *SeedLegals aims to revolutionize the legal process for startups and facilitate access to entrepreneurship by offering a range of comprehensive and innovative services: fundraising, recruitment, employee shareholding, and shareholder management;
• *Legalcluster is a collaborative platform for legal, ethics and compliance functions open to all employees
*We act is an offer for notaries that provides them with a service for drafting compromises.
Despite the disparity of the solutions, they all aim to improve legal practice and bring fluidity and speed to the understanding and application of the law. As for the users, they are especially sensitive to the saving of time and to the ease of use of the interfaces. This last point is all the more important as the target group, namely legal professionals, do not have a particular appetite for technology due to their training and culture.
A "polymorphic" public increasingly receptive according to legaltech at Vivatech
During the COVID period, companies massively turned to digital tools. Legaltech has of course benefited from this movement, which has highlighted the advantages of digital technology for lawyers: electronic signature, facilitation of exchanges, remote work with different parties, etc.
The legal departments of major accounts first led the way out of necessity. Now, they are interested in the digitalization of their services in order to improve their practices. However, the implementation of a usage innovation requires a fundamental questioning of the company's internal organization. It is therefore not surprising to see a closing time oscillating between 3 to 6 months (or even more).
For smaller organizations, the speed of adoption differs depending on the audience. Agile" companies like start-ups or connected lawyers will be more enthusiastic about the idea of using a SaaS. As for VSEs/SMEs, the "legaltech" reflex is advancing slowly, but surely: it is above all a matter of educating a target that does not yet have a strong legal culture. Finally, the BtoC market is also booming: according to Call a Lawyer, individuals are more and more inclined to defend their rights. This democratization of access to lawyers is therefore beneficial for access to law.
The liberal professions, such as lawyers or notaries, have integrated the use of a search engine or business software (e.g. Genapi, Fichorga or Fiducial for notaries) into their professional lives for several years.
The difference today? Firms and offices are increasingly concerned with performance and customer experience. Platforms for connecting clients, outsourcing of documents, automation of time-consuming tasks, and legal research facilitated by artificial intelligence are all solutions that respond to these issues.
For 2023: a "natural" growth?
According to Y Combinator, an iconic Silicon Valley seed fund, the heyday of fundraising is soon over. Will this have an impact on legaltechs looking for investors? We assume so, but the coming months will confirm or deny the trend.
2023 will be a pivotal year. This is not surprising. Indeed, like any market that structures itself, we will see takeovers, mergers and the disappearance of certain start-ups. With so many players, there is strength in numbers. Will offering complementary "packaged" services, through partnerships or co-marketing actions, be the key to conquering new market shares?
Despite the interest of investors in the field, the fact remains that it is on the ground that the game is played. The legaltechs have understood this since many of them are very close to their customers to the point of co-constructing with them the new features of the product. Ginolegaltech or Examin are in constant contact with users to define their next needs.
The good news for 2023? The digitization of legal services and legal professionals is a vast undertaking and we are only at the beginning. On the other hand, transforming a traditional field with well-established habits requires a great deal of education for decision-makers and the support of legal professionals, without whom the long-awaited change will be complicated.
Furthermore, it is essential that legaltechs open up to other sectors by participating in "non-legal" events. Vivatech is a very good example: legaltechs have filled their address book with qualified prospects. The growth and sustainability of this sector will depend on its ability to make itself known beyond legal departments.
Conclusion: legaltechs at Vivatech are rather optimistic
Our interlocutors are unanimous: they are finally reaping the fruits of several years of evangelization. It is clear that the barrier to entry will be relatively difficult for newcomers. We will also see an international development of some legaltechs. SeedLegals believes that the harmonization of Practices will abolish the still domestic character of law by automatically locating documents in the chosen jurisdiction
Another positive signal? Recruitment: building a multidisciplinary team is one of their priorities. The human resources aspect will be studied closely since we are already closely since we are already witnessing the birth of hybrid lawyers who will be able to be marketing managers, project managers, developers or even salespeople. For the time being, talents are actively sought.
*For this event, France Digitale, the leading startup organization in Europe, which brings together nearly 1,800 startups and investors, has brought together 8 promising legaltechs
1 A commercial model of software operation in which software is installed on remote servers rather than on the user's computer