If you missed your flight to NYC for this year's Legaltech New York conference, there's no need to miss out on some of the legal innovations that were presented there. In one of the more interesting Legaltech events, nine startups gathered for "Legal Disruption Lightning Rounds." (Think "Shark Tank" but without the proprietary content.)
These start ups seek to change how we we settle disputes, draft contracts, and record fulfillments. Here are three that stand out to us.
ArbiClaims: Have Your Small Claims Handled Without Getting Out of Bed
A neighbor chopped down your tree, your landlord took off with your deposit, or an ex smashed in your TV. Your best legal recourse is probably small claims court -- or if you're lucky, a starring role on Judge Judy. But that requires you to get out of your pajamas.
ArbiClaims is a start up for the sort-of-litigious among us who aren't quite ready to head into court. It's online, binding arbitration for small claims. The arbitrators are a handful of California lawyers and ArbiClaims promises a judicially enforceable resolution within three weeks. Of course, both parties have to agree to use ArbiClaims, but the company has a work around. For a few extra bucks, they'll file a real small claims case in order to strong arm the other party into accepting your "invitation" to arbitrate.
LitIQ: Never Make a Drafting Error Again
LitIQ wants to put robots to work to make you a better writer -- at least of contracts. Recognizing that "drafting errors, like using vague language, are a frequent cause of litigation," this start up seeks to use computational linguistics technology to "detect drafting oversights ahead of time."
LitIQ is definitely in the early stages of its development, but it has some strong names behind it. The project is being helmed by Gurinder Sangha, a lawyer who founded Intelligize, which put tech to work for securities research. LitIQ has also brought on Ken Adams, author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting. We're excited to see what these two can pull together.
SmartContract: Blockchains in Your Contracts
Just last week, we covered the ways blockchain technology could change the practice of law. But SmartContract has been trying to make that promise a reality for the past two years.
SmartContract uses "programmable agreements" that are built on blockchain technology, but you don't need to be a programmer to understand them. The examples we've seen are straight-forward enough that even a Luddite lawyer could figure them out. Current SmartContract offerings include search engage rank agreements, bitcoin loan agreements, and real estate escrow, all of which have proof of completion stored in the blockchain.