The legal profession, often seen as a pillar of tradition and steadfastness, is perhaps undergoing one of the most remarkable transformations in the digital age. Powered by big data and data science, the emergence of legaltech has been reshaping the way legal professionals practice law, manage their workloads, and interact with clients. Yet new AI-powered technologies available on the market today are giving legaltech a further boost.
For instance, what if we had access to legal professionals 24/7? From streamlining tedious administrative tasks to revolutionizing research and analysis, AI-powered legaltech can further increase the efficiency of and accessibility to legal services.
From Budapest, Hungary, lawyer, professor, and startup mentor Miklos Zorkóczy has been at the forefront of promoting legaltech and AI as tools to enhance the quality of work for lawyers everywhere. In our discussion, we delve into the fascinating world of lawtech, explore legaltech trends and how their are redefining the industry, and review how AI in particular can help lawyers.
But first, we’ll sneak a peek at the legaltech innovation landscape in Central and Eastern Europe.
Legaltech startups from Central and Eastern Europe
Solution: Goodlegal is a platform that aims to speed up legal processes to achieve compliance. The platform’s functionalities include drag-and-drop document builders, editor and text analysis, e-signature, automation functionalities, and integrations to achieve legal compliance.
Highlights: They raised a pre-seed funding round of €1.2M in 2022.
Founders: Ana-Maria Udriste
Solution: A digital platform connecting lawyers with people in need of one. The platform includes lawyers specialized in social media, tech, e-commerce and business law.
Solution: A platform that instantly matches people with lawyers, where they can get expert advice or a 15 minutes free talk.
Founder: Vasilis Tsolis
Country: UK, with Greek founder
Solution: Cognitiv+ is an AI-powered platform aiming to give businesses and law firms better insights from their legal data. The platform accumulates data from documents, policies and legislation and shares actionable insights.
Highlights: They were among the winners of 12th edition of the Innovation & Technology Competition organized by the NBG Business Seeds Program in Greece.
Founder: Stanimir Nenov
Solution: Their digital platform offers affordable legal services for business and individuals, including company registration, company changes, and measures to protect your online business.
Solution: The company provides legal tech services and helps organizations to determine the applicable posting requirements across Europe.
Country: Ukraine, UK
Solution: With offices in Ukraine and headquarters in London, Legal Nodes offers an all-in-one legal platform for businesses and especially startups that want to set up and operate internationally and need help with cross-border legal structures. They aim to increase price transparency in the legal market and help clients receive legal help seamlessly worldwide.
Highlights: So far, they have raised $470,000 from angel investors and startup programs.
Solution: The Estonian startup is an AI-based platform that matches people in need of legal services with lawyers in the chosen price range. They aim to create a sharing economy-based marketplace for lawyers.t.
Highlights: They signed a €3.5 million contract with the Estonian government in 2021.
Founder: Kristiana Filip
Countries: Albania, Kosovo
Solution: The first legaltech platform providing digital legal services to businesses, entrepreneurs, and freelancers in Albania and Kosovo.
Legal Tech BG
Founder: Elislav Atanasov
Solution: The startup offers a document management platform aimed to help lawyers automate part of their work.
Founder: Valentin Feklistov
Solution: LEGID’s AI-powered platform offers legal services on-demand. They operate in the Baltics, Poland and Spain.
Highlights: They raised $64,500 pre-seed from angels and venture funds.
Founder: Mariana Hagström
Solution: The startup offers a digital workspace for data-driven contract lifecycle management (CLM) to help companies maintain one source of truth for all their contracts and data on a single platform.
Solution: Lawyerd is a blockchain-based agency that offers automatic protection of intellectual property on the Internet.
Highlights: The legaltech has been backed by Techstarts, The Blox, lawyer firm Lander & Rogers and HiiL (The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law).
Solution: With an online draft & sign platform, Pergamin aims to help businesses create, negotiate, and manage contracts.
Highlights: The company raised a $1.2 million seed round.
Legaltech trends: Will lawyers become available 24/7? Dispatches from Budapest
The Recursive: You work at the intersection of law and technology. Can you speak a bit to how legaltech helps lawyers?
Miklos Zorkóczy: There are various types of legaltech tools available on the market, which are low code, no code systems. These off-the-shelf products are affordable and can save lawyers tremendous time. For instance, a contract automation process can be supported by contract lifecycle management systems. A document evaluation system can analyze hundreds of documents when searching for patterns in legal text. In addition, legal chatbots can enhance the communication with clients and lawyers will be available for 24 hours a day with the help of such an assistance.
The legaltech space has taken off in recent years. Which legaltech trends do you see as most promising?
Today, most legaltech tools are based on Big Data and Data Science technology, but APIs backed by LLM (Large Language Models) are coming up. However, we must not forget that lawyers need to have accurate systems and to keep confidentiality on business secrets. AI tools must be accountable, explainable, and transparent, so developers have to focus on these requirements as well.
Can you help us paint a picture of how a lawyer could use AI as its personal assistant?
Once we have accurate and transparent systems, AI can make legal research in databases and legal text in a more effective and complex way. AI will assist lawyers to communicate with clients especially in non-legal issues, like booking appointments 24/7, or help client onboarding. AI will also be a good tool to generate legal text for lawyers to review.
How can we mitigate some of the risks that AI poses for lawyers and the practice of law?
Automation bias is the approach where humans trust the systems too much and forget to control the machines. In reality, lawyers need to always stay in control of the outcome of AI-powered solutions.
You are also a lecturer. What have you noticed about how the academic environment is shifting to take advantage of the new AI wave, while considering the risks? To what extent do you and your students use and refer to AI in your courses?
When generative AI tools are not prohibited to use in universities, students can learn about technology, including how dangerous it can be and how to control the systems. The advantage of technology is obvious, but humans must pay attention to the risks, such as the invalid source of information, dark patterns of decision-making processes, or deepfake news. As a result, students must comply with copyright requirements when submitting assignments.
At the end of the day, if they use AI technology in a proper way, an unbelievable amount of information can be handled and evaluated with its help.
How are Hungary and the overall Central and Eastern Europe region faring when it comes to legaltech and AI innovation? Would you highlight any particular startups?
There are many startups in the region (for instance Goodlegal, ed.note), though compared to mature legaltech markets, it is not visible. To change that, we are organizing a Regional LegalTech Conference on September 18, which will be held in Budapest. At the conference you can meet lawyers, in house counsels who are already experienced in using AI and legaltech tools. Also developers, investors, researchers and lecturers are welcome to meet legal practical problems to be solved. Legaltech is not just for lawyers; everyone can use it if dealing with a lot of documents – HR departments, sales or procurement departments.