I have generally wanted to show up at a person of these invite-only summits – such as the Davos conference of the Globe Financial Discussion board or a Renaissance Weekend – that deliver together leaders from across disciplines to engage in open and unfettered dialogue about the state and upcoming of no matter what the summit’s subject might be.
This 7 days, my want arrived accurate, in a feeling, as I attended what felt like the legal tech world’s reply to Davos or Renaissance.
It was the inaugural TLTF Summit, a 3-day plan convened in Miami by The LegalTech Fund, the 1st undertaking capital organization to concentrate completely on legal tech. The invite-only system, capped at 250 individuals, was billed as the “highly-curated occasion for innovators who are transforming the earth of regulation.” I was privileged to be the only journalist invited to be there.
It was a superlative conference – 1 like no other meeting in legal tech. Devoid of exception, each and every attendee I spoke to agreed on that level. The summit will no question be viewed as the new “it” meeting of legal tech, and when product sales open up for future year’s variation, it will most likely be the authorized tech equivalent of a Taylor Swift ticket.
(And, certainly, by the way, Zach Posner, the brainchild powering this party and cofounder of the The Legaltech Fund, told me there will most likely be a repeat upcoming yr, most likely with a marginally expanded attendance limit.)
Exclusive Blend of Attendees
For each individual convention, there are intangible attributes that make or split it. All those intangibles can be challenging to capture in phrases. But if there was just one that shaped this convention, it was the enthusiasm of all people there. To a just one, these had been folks who are fired up and passionate about the market and about their possess roles in contributing to it.
Past that intangible, there were various extremely tangible characteristics that produced this convention not like any other.
One particular was the uniqueness of the combine of attendees it brought with each other. The Renaissance Weekend describes itself as an “incredible combine of preeminent leaders, passionate adjust-makers and climbing stars.” That description aptly suits the TLTF Summit. It introduced alongside one another people today from throughout the spectrum of those who are serving to to drive innovation in legal. Attendees incorporated early-stage startups, veteran CEOs, key buyers, legislation organization chairs, corporate standard counsel, and other folks. Though most had been from the U.S., many others came from destinations as much afield as Australia, Egypt and Peru.
Including to the uniqueness of the blend was the prevalence of VCs and other traders. For guaranteed, investors attend other important legal tech conferences, but they normally do so in fairly of a stealth manner, or at the very least powering the scenes. But in this article, the investors have been front and middle, even serving as the showcased speakers on several panels, and actively participating with other attendees, which include startups, through the program.
One more characteristic that manufactured this summit unique was the atmosphere into which this varied group came with each other. By style and design, the summit was non-commercial and commonly off-the-document. Law business leaders could show up at without anxiety of getting hounded by vendors. Enterprise capitalists could communicate frankly about their sights of the sector.
Guaranteed, plenty of authorized tech suppliers had been there, equally startups and established organizations, but they had been not there to provide. In simple fact, significantly absent have been any profits or advertising and marketing folks. Instead, it was CEOs and founders and merchandise potential customers. Notably, there was not an show corridor or vendor booth to be found. The closest the conference ever came to remaining industrial was the signage demonstrating the logos of sponsors and a table of contributed swag. (Very great swag, by the way.)
Fairly than to offer or be bought to, attendees had been there – as the TLTF Summit experienced pitched alone in its progress marketing and advertising – to connect, to accelerate, and to understand.
The environment was uniquely egalitarian. Even nevertheless the summit involved some of the most effective investors and executives in lawful tech, alongside some founders so early that that they had only a short while ago launched, this was a conference at which every person was speaking to everybody and eager to network and link. It was difficult to change around without having assembly anyone new or striking up a dialogue.
Worthy of noting is that, even even though The LegalTech Fund structured this summit, it gave by itself no favoritism. Among the buyers who were invited have been many who are the fund’s competition, and among the startups invited ended up many that are not in its portfolio, but that have been picked to be there by means of an unbiased judging process.
A Straightforward Structure
The real format was basic. The meeting ran from mid-day Wednesday to mid-day Friday. During that time, a so-referred to as major phase featured a method of panels and speakers, whilst a next stage featured the summit’s Startup Showcase with pitches from 31 startups.
Every day’s panels mirrored a theme. The 1st working day centered in broad phrases on the VC funding globe and investors’ perspectives on funding and building thriving organizations. It started with a panel moderated by Ashton Newhall, lover with the StepStone Group, the fund integrator that before this yr led the $108 million Sequence D investment decision in case management company Filevine, and with panelists Jack Abraham, founder, managing husband or wife and CEO of Atomic, and Ed Sim, founding running spouse of Boldstart Ventures.
That was followed by a fireplace chat with Cathie Wood, Founder, CEO and main expenditure officer of ARK Investments, who was interviewed by Erez Kalir, founder and CEO of Martial Eagle Fund, about the condition of disruptive innovation in general public markets, the macro economic climate, recent situations in crypto and ARK’s announcement of its partnership to enter into the undertaking money place.
The next day focused a lot more on the existing condition of legal tech and emerging tendencies. One particular panel brought jointly four CEOs of major legal tech companies – Dru Armstrong of Affinipay, Kiwi Camara of DISCO, Tim Hwang of Fiscalnote and Charley Moore of RocketLawyer – for a dialogue moderated by Orrick chairman and CEO Mitch Zuklie of “why this space is amazing.”
Other panels that working day focused on “legaltech beyond the typical counsel’s office environment,” the “massive fintech prospect hidden in legaltech,” the emerging region of justice tech, and on reimaging legal get the job done.
The 3rd day sought to weave alongside one another the prior days’ themes with panels analyzing the dynamics of the legal tech market place right now and speculating on in which it is headed about the subsequent 5-10 many years.
As all that was going on on the principal phase, a next track highlighted the event’s Startup Showcase. Around 150 pre-seed and seed-phase startups competed for one particular of 31 spots to go to the convention, and during the meeting, they each experienced an possibility to present 8-minute pitches to panels of judges.
Out of that, four firms ended up selected to current on the main phase on the summit’s ultimate day. The 4 that produced that ultimate minimize ended up ECFX, Fairmint, Kaveat, and Rally.
Of course, each conference need to have its social gatherings. The situations here had been modest but entertaining. The to start with night time showcased a poolside reception at the hotel that hosted the summit, EAST Miami. When that finished, significantly of the group relocated to a close by bar.
The 2nd night time introduced attendees to Putt Shack, a combination bar, restaurant and indoor mini golf course, in which everyone got to present off their placing techniques — or deficiency thereof. Putt Shack is not your grandparents’ mini golfing, but a electronic training course that designed me feel like I’d shrunk and stepped into a big electronic pinball machine.
In the course of the 3 times, the real action was taking place exterior the conference rooms, in the open spots all over the at any time-flowing coffee and significant-best tables, wherever the 1-on-a person and tiny-group conversations appeared hardly ever to quit. Even stepping into an elevator would kick off a dialogue, it seemed.
Not for Every person
Having heaped praise upon this conference, allow me be crystal clear that it is not for everybody. There are lots of authorized tech conferences, and they provide distinctive audiences and functions. This convention would not be for you, for illustration, if you are browsing for a authorized tech products or making an attempt to get the lay of the product or service landscape. It also would not be for you if you are new to legal tech and making an attempt to master practical tech skills or assemble realistic information. If that is you, I would advocate ABA TECHSHOW (for which purposes are open up for its Startup Alley) or Legalweek New York.
On the other hand, this is for you if you want to be more engaged in thinking about building the subsequent era of tech and innovation to travel regulation follow ahead. This could possibly be for you if you are an entrepreneur wanting to link with investors and sector veterans, a CEO seeking to explore new avenues for growth or collaboration, an investor curious to see what a new breed of business people are developing, or simply another person who is energized by remaining among the individuals these kinds of as these.
It really should also be noted that the general concentration of the summit was on authorized tech for the bigger agency and corporate current market. There was, as mentioned, a panel on justice tech, and numerous of the startups had solutions that possibly were being buyer-struggling with or for more compact corporations. But the summit’s concentration on investing inevitably resulted in a emphasis on products and solutions for the more substantial business market, with loads of chat of deal automation and management, cap tables, and the like.
So just after all that networking and talking about and presenting and pondering, what were the takeaways?
As I filter by means of the 3 times of panels and the observations of the panelists, and getting license to generalize a bit, in this article are a number of takeaways I picked up:
The condition of the investment decision landscape. Even although, in the current market, investors are not as cost-free with revenue as they had been even just a calendar year in the past, there is funding to be identified for startups if they can show earnings opportunity and solution-sector in good shape. Several panelists characterized the present-day investment marketplace is a return to usual (and to sanity).
Hot products parts for 2023. There appeared to be normal agreement that two sizzling locations for legal tech upcoming year will be GRC and compliance.
All eyes are on generative AI. With so much awareness in the news to ChatGPT, it is not astonishing that traders are quite intrigued in generative AI and its prospective inside of the lawful marketplace. Speakers reported they anticipate that, about the upcoming 5-10 a long time, generative AI will have a profound effect on the lawful current market and that AI merchandise will see startling development prices. Panelists prompt AI’s greatest likely stays in releasing attorneys from routine work, but that it will not swap attorneys in their larger-degree expertise. As just one panelist set it, AI will increase area abilities, not switch area experience.
Options in JusticeTech. Panelists acknowledged that the legal method remains basically broken for most people, and that there is a large possibility for tech developers to tackle the obtain to justice gap. As Kristen Sonday of Paladin said, “There is so substantially very low-hanging fruit in the JusticeTech house, so considerably opportunity and potential.”
A concentrate on FinTech. Even nevertheless one panel centered specially on FinTech, it was a subject that arrived up on numerous panels. Traders, CEOs and analytics all look to share the belief that there are large options in advance for the relationship of lawful tech and fintech, together with in the parts of payments, banking, litigation finance and, as Dan Lear of Gravity Legal reported, “the essential block and tackle of going dollars in this house.” 1 certain location of chance is in litigation finance, the place tech can be a match changer in its capacity to recognize designs and predict outcomes.
The crowded contracts current market. With anywhere from 200-400 companies in the contracts place, how will it perform out? Panelists appeared to agree that there will be no “winner choose all,” but at least one particular panelist predicted that CLM players will need to have to come to be much more specialized about industry verticals.
Authorized regulatory reform. If much more states adhere to the sales opportunities of Arizona and Utah and employ regulatory reform, there will be substantial options for authorized tech businesses to build platforms to enable law corporations consider and work far more like traditional enterprises.
Information to startups. The panels ended up peppered with suggestions to startup founders. Among the tidbits they available:
- Concentration on making items that prospects both of those want and adore.
- Do not create your strategy all around the future funding round relatively, enhance all over survival and revenue generation.
- Contemplate financing from a corporate enterprise company (this sort of as Thomson Reuters Ventures) which can support drive revenue to a startup by way of its present client community.
- A important question for both of those investors and business people: Is the solution a “nice to have” or a “need to have.”
- From time to time, timing is every thing, and good results can turn on acquiring the suitable merchandise at the appropriate time.
Ripe for Innovation
The a single point on which everybody appeared to concur is that the legal sector remains ripe for innovation. For all the development of the previous 10 a long time, we have merely established the stage for what will occur around the future 10 yrs.
And as that innovation carries on to transpire, it is a harmless bet that several of these innovators will be there to speak about it at upcoming year’s TLTF Summit.