Legaltech roll of honour
The JC pontificates about technology
An occasional series.
As a special service, the JC is tracking the legaltechbros he knows about. This comes, at first, from those enusiastic people at Legal Geek and their “startup map” that they kindly created in 2021, and which is now a dynamic, although confusing and hard to follow, and not fabulously well-updated, online resource.
In any weather it gives a good picture of the current state of peak inflated expectations, but buries its own fossil record — those legaltech startups which are, for whatever reason, no longer of this earth — in a way which our one won’t.
Now, to be sure: there are some good businesses here. Excellent ones. And there are good businesses not represented here — perhaps they weren’t prepared to pay Legal Geek whatever lucre it sought for inclusion. We know some of the owners: they are good people. But — well, diamonds in the muck, and all that.
As we go, we are adding new ventures as we find out about them — admission is free! — though it may be a club you’d rather not be part of — if you would like yours featured don’t hesitate to drop us a line.
We don’t promise it is accurate, or fair, or up-to-date, or that we have fully understood, or cared less about, the offerings. After 250 or so crappy websites your eyes glaze over. So if you think your business has been unfairly characterised, let us know.
We aim to track a few dynamics:
Those that have just run out of steam altogether — “👻 as of ~”. Since 2021, that is 42 firms out of the 270 odd on the original list — fifteen percent — have gone tetas arriba in just two years. And that was before the tech winter kicked in.
Our theory is the industry is desperate for consolidation. We will mark those who have been acquired by a bigger fish thus🦈. With the winter coming, the theory should be that getting hoovered up into a bigger operator, as an alternative to just running out of money altogether, is the smart choice. But good luck with that exit package.
But here is the weird thing: only eleven firms have been acquired. That is a consolidation rate of just two percent per annum. The needed legal consolidation is not happening.
Perhaps this will change as the tech winter sets in.
Dreary business ideas
Where we see it, we have also added snarkish, superficial and no doubt thoroughly unjustified shade, in the form of emojis about the products based on their business name, website presentation and proclivity for meaningless buzzwordery.
Sticking “lex”, “ify” or “ly” in your business name and getting some Java coder from Bucharest you found on UpWork to mock up a basic html workflow and claiming you have revolutionised contract management is not, any longer, going to cut it. If you have to be an order of magnitude better than your competition to suceed , then the fact that your product does the same thing, and looks exactly the same, as dozens of other offerings on the market ought to tell you something. At least twenty-five firms offer basically the same contract generation and document management service. They will not all survive.
If you don’t believe me, you are welcome to click on the now 300 websites we have painstakingly collated. In fact, you should. It is a sobering realisation of how homogenous, quotidian, and basically dreary this sector is. There are a few outliers, but broadly the applications all do more or less the same things, with few variations.
As we get on we are planning to build the list out to feature the types of businesses these websites represent, but for now just clicking on the links will reveal a jaw-dropping amount of homogeneity. Lots of frustrated associates at across the big law universe all seem to have had the same idea. Who would have thought that legal practitioners would be so conditioned to thinking in exactly the same way as each other?
The JC’s “Legaltech Roll of Honour”
- © Peter Thiel.