Legal advice now available online for small business owners

A collaboration between the American Bar Association and Rocket Lawyer had led to a new program being launched that allows small business owners to get access to legal advice more easily. The program, called ABA Law Connect, has begun testing in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California. It uses Rocket Lawyer’s cloud-computing software to create a program that allows business owners to post a legal question for a small fee. The question, and a follow-up question, if desired, are answered by lawyers who members of the American Bar Association in good standing. Then, if the small business owner is pleased with the responses, they can establish a working relationship with the lawyer that answered their questions. In this way, both sides are benefited: lawyers have access to larger number of potential clients, and small business owners can receive legal advice promptly and cheaply.

This is simply one example of the ways that the American Bar Association is trying to make legal services more accessible, a goal that Rocket Lawyer also shares. The CEO and founder of Rocket Lawyer, Charley Moore, explains that he wanted his company to “leverage technology in order to bring quality and affordable legal services to small businesses”. Though ABA Law Connect is still a pilot program, hopefully it will made more widely available in the future.

Article via ABA JournalOctober 1, 2015

Photo: Heine Brothers Coffee via Independent We Stand [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Entrepreneur explains lawyer’s skepticism, need for legaltech

“There are incredible entrepreneurs building useful new legal technology products, but adoption is often slow and painful”, explains Jules Miller, the entrepreneur behind Hire an EsquireLawyers are, on the whole, very skeptical. While this may be beneficial for their clients, it also means that lawyers are slow to accept change or utilize new technology. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of society isn’t changing. With the rise of Uber and the “on-demand economy”, the legal profession’s staffing firm model is somewhat out of date. Miller describes that she and her friend Julia Shapiro, a former attorney, “realized that the on-demand economy already existed in the legal industry,” and created Hire an Esquire as a result. This legal staffing platform uses technology to help modernize and streamline the process of connecting attorneys to clients. With the rise of legaltech like Hire an Esquire, the legal industry can become more efficient and more fulfilling for everyone involved. But with lawyers being slow on the uptake, legaltech is not progressing very quickly.

In response, Miller has recently launched Evolve Law“to accelerate the adoption of new ideas and technologies in the legal industry”. After all, most legaltech is still being developed and tested, but to create effective products, companies need data and feedback from users. This means that lawyers will have to let go of some of their natural skepticism and embrace new technology. However, many lawyers are simply not being informed about the legaltech available to them. Miller cites that she often meets attorneys who have never heard of Hire an Esquire, even though it has been operating for four years. Evolve Law plans to change that by providing a platform to inform lawyers about new innovations in legaltech.

Article via Above the Law, October 19, 2015

Photo: limited time only by Ben Kilgust [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Tech experts landing lucrative jobs at law firms

Even though there aren’t many jobs available for tech experts in the law profession, those that have experience in litigation support or e-discovery can expect to be able to obtain higher salaries than they have in the past, simply because there aren’t that many professionals out there that fit the criteria. It’s a simply case of supply and demand—with a limited supply of these tech professionals, they’re able to demand more money. For example, Robert Half predicts that litigation support/e-discovery directors can expect an approximately 6% increase on average in their salary, bringing the average range between $101,000 and $130,050. Tech professionals working in major markets such as New York can expect much more, though, with an average salary of $230,000 or more. Chief information officers can also expect to see an increase in their earnings, and their salaries can fall into the range of $300,000 to $500,000 at top law firms. As the global practice leader in law firm management at Major, Lindsey & Africa, Amanda K. Brady, explains, “It can be lucrative …. but there’s just not a lot of these jobs.”

As tech-related fields continue to grow, though, tech professionals can expect to see more opportunities for working in law. For example, multidisciplinary teams containing professionals knowledgeable about networks and information security are predicted to become more common for firms who have practice groups centering on cybersecurity or privacy. Additionally, many firms are expected to create practice groups for these kind of tech concerns if they have not already. With this much growth in the future, tech experts can look forward to salaries continuing to rise. According to Brady, “There’s only an upward projectory here. The demand will only continue.”

Though the prospect of a better salary may attract many tech professionals to law, they should keep in mind that the workplace culture found at a law firm can be very different from what they are used to. It isn’t entrepreneurial, like the environment found at a startup. Additionally, tech professionals, especially chief information officers, are often paid very well because technology can present a huge risk to the firm. If the tech systems are not kept up to par by the chief information officer and other tech employees, the firm’s reputation can suffer. Those looking to work in a law firm should keep the above in mind, but in addition to a higher salary, tech professional may also look forward to being involved in many different parts of the firms and handling many responsibilities.

Article via Legaltech News, September 25, 2015

Photo: Cash Money (part two) via Jeremy Yerse [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

 


Legaltech startups booming in Silicon Valley

Legaltech startups are doing very well for themselves—even the famous Silicon Valley startup accelerator Y Combinator is starting to invest in legaltech companies. These startups can range from making legal services more accessible, as is the case with Willing and Separate.usto making lawyers’ lives a little bit easier, like Lawgeex, Kira Systems, and UpCounsel. Several of these startups are even going as far as trying to revolutionize their areas of expertise. Willing, for example, not only allows users to create a free will in as little as five minutes but also helps them plan funeral and other services. By drawing users in with a free legal service, Willing is then able to connect them to vendors and other paid services within the death care industry. Separate.us, on the other hand, aims to make divorces easier by simplifying a usually messy process.

Legaltech isn’t just geared towards consumers, though. Lawgeex can be helpful for both lawyers and clients alike. It digitally analyzes documents and compares them to precedents within their database, something lawyers are used to having to do manually. While Lawgeex is described as easy and efficient to use, clients may still have to turn to lawyers for help with understanding the documents themselves. Additionally, Kira Systems offers multiple products including a Due Diligence Engine which can review documents, locate certain provisions, and fill out diligence charts, saving lawyers’ time and clients’ money. UpCounsel goes beyond both Lawgeex and Kira Systems in trying to alter the entire law firm model, even securing $10M from Menlo Ventures in an effort to prove its model is suited for law firms of the future. It’s possible that legaltech startups like these will soon be changing the law profession for the better.

Article via Above the LawSeptember 29, 2015

Photo: Reflections of the setting sun via Alvin Law [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]