What legal tech startups should law firms be watching?
BY Ryan Conley STAFF CONTRIBUTOR
Many of the fastest-growing tech companies in Silicon Valley are backed by a startup incubator called Y Combinator. You may be familiar with a few of them, such as Dropbox or Airbnb.
As the legal industry enjoys a surge in technological advancement, Y Combinator is investing heavily in legal tech startups. Some may create products you already use; others will compete directly with you for clients.
The TurboTax of immigration
Watch out, immigration attorneys. SimpleCitizen wants to put you out of a job. The company calls its product TurboTax for immigration, and it wants to allow people to navigate US immigration laws without an attorney. The company is still in early stages; at this point, it appears a human attorney reviews all users’ documents. However, if it can teach its computers to do the job, the sky’s the limit.
An attorney referral service
People hiring an attorney for the first time often have no idea what they’re doing. They want help figuring it out, and they want to find the right lawyer the first time. LawDingo is a startup referral service that wants to make finding a lawyer “stupidly simple” and quick, too. Attorneys may find this a great way to get their name in front of the notoriously hard-to-reach younger generations. Signup is free.
Collaborative divorce services
The process of amicable, or “collaborative,” divorce is growing in popularity for its ability to offer better outcomes in less time with less stress. Wevorce capitalizes on this by creating an online firm staffed by hundreds of attorneys, family counselors and financial planners nationwide who guide couples through divorce. Attorneys and other professionals can receive basic referrals for free, or can purchase one of two membership packages with different levels of support, training and promotion.
Basic online will creation
Online will preparation services have been around for a while, so what makes recent startup Willing worth mentioning? Well, users can create a basic will for free. Compare that with a cost of $69 at competitor Legalzoom and you can understand why Willing is growing quickly. The company’s revenue is made on the other side of its business, which helps people find and compare costs for cemeteries funeral homes.
In its effort to “reinvent legal research,” Casetext is taking on the likes of Lexis and Westlaw. Drawing lessons from Wikipedia, Casetext crowdsources its legal research from the public community of attorneys and academics. The user can access over a million cases with other users’ annotations for free, and premium features are available.
This startup aims to harness artificial intelligence to create the “world’s smartest lawyer,” which it calls ROSS. The system learns from users’ queries and actions to improve over time on its ability to find the right answer. It promises to save you time on research by returning only the best results and eliminating the need for boolean queries.