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While there are certainly critics and skeptics of the relatively recent push from some major law firms to establish tech incubators, these firms are clearly breaking much-needed new ground for the legal industry.
As reported in Above the Law, three major UK firms have recently made headlines over their newest batches of incubatees. Some of the new projects promise to revolutionize document review or even regulation and compliance using machine learning and AI. Other projects focus on helping lawyers make more money in less time. Regardless, the mere fact that these big law firms, which only recently announced their tech incubator programs, are already expanding, is a good sign for legal tech.
Not to be outdone by those big law barristers, U.S. firms have also started in house tech labs and incubators as well. Notably, Orrick Herrington and Sutcliffe's Orrick Labs creates solutions for the firm to use. One such solution is a custom portal for the firm that allows the clients to get information, connect and collaborate with their attorneys. That portal is already in use by over 800 of the firm's tech clients worldwide.
Another U.S. firm, Nixon Peabody, recently announced their new incubator, StartOut Growth Lab. However, the Nixon Peabody incubator is a little different as it has a focus to support startups founded by members of the LGBTQ community. The firm provides space and legal support to its incubatees.
Big Law Branching Out
As legal self-help technology continues to improve, it seems to be only a matter of time before the biggest law firms, just like the smallest, will be forced to adapt to stay relevant (or in business). That might mean leveraging technology in order to keep up with technology, or something completely different.
For some firms, it may mean shifting from the actual day-to-day practice of law to supporting the legal technology on the back-end, or even by directly helping programmers develop the tech that legal consumers will use.