Legal tech: Creeping revolution

The digitalization of legal advice is one of the main challenges facing firms. Those who do not react will not be able to keep up with the competition, as legal departments too are gradually discovering the possibilities of legal tech.

Just two years ago, many were confident: it would be almost impossible to transfer the technical trends from the US, where legal tech tools are far more widespread than in Europe, to other legal systems. But this was not the case. The number of patents filed for legal services has been rising for years; many filers come from the startup scene.

Among these are German online services like myright.de or flightright.de, which collect damages for consumers. Because of the volume, a business model has emerged – and a challenge for companies. Behind myright.de in the VW diesel scandal, for example, is the US firm Hausfeld, which wants to help thousands of car buyers claim damages. Legal departments have to react – ideally with a technical solution to keep the additional expense low.

As well as this, there are now firms that offer digitally assisted work at fixed prices. Platforms like Advocado or Jurato have been targeting more than just consumers for a long time. Financially, these are certainly no competition for established firms, but they are turning up the pressure on firms to rethink their fee models.

May 2017 saw the official German launch of Axiom, with technology-based legal services. The consulting company enjoys huge global success but not much has been heard from it in Germany yet. Such alternative legal service providers have struggled so far because in-house lawyers have been unable to gauge them. But the rising acceptance on a global scale will weaken skepticism in Germany too.

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