There’s little question a real legal tech movement is underway world-wide — and one that’s accelerating at much faster clip than ever before.

It’s different than from just a year or two ago. Being in Amsterdam a couple weeks ago for the Lexpo legal tech and innovation conference and a Dutch Legal Tech Meetup the feeling was palpable.

A combination of things appears to be accelerating the movement.

  • Pressure from consumers of legal services (corporations or consumers) who are not going to accept work from unaccountable law firms who are not driven by data and predictions.
  • Legal tech companies with much lower costs of tech development seizing an opportunity.
  • Use of data is being demanded by smart consumers of legal services – don’t tell me what you think, but what you should know based on the data in your hands.
  • Younger professionals (tech, law, business, finance) who abhor inefficiencies and see how humans + machines are better than humans alone.
  • No longer accepting from law firms an attitude (intended or not) that this is the way we do things because we’re a special group exempt from the sound business practices of 2017.
  • The demand for access to legal services/access to justice no longer accepting lawyers, state bar associations and the American Bar Association saying they care and that they are acting when in fact the number of people without access to legal services continues to rise, and are likely protecting their own, the lawyers.

Professor Daniel Katz did a great job at the Dutch Legal Tech Meetup driving a debate about this movment with law students, practicing lawyers, in-house professionals and legal tech entrepreneurs. I told him afterwards it would be great to if we could scale him to drive such debates world-wide.

Seeing his drive and the others driving this legal tech movement, who knows what’s coming.

A lack of innovation, high operating expenses and complacency have resulted in less than cutting edge technology and efficiencies from the big boys in legal technology and publishing. The problem has been made worse because of law firms’ acceptance of the status quo as they don’t know better and bill by the hour.

The result is an explosion (relatively speaking) of legal startups over the last six or seven years. Some good ideas, some with new technology/software, some making money, others not, some third party funded, some bootstrapped, some well run and others not.

Lawyer and veteran legal blogger, Carolyn Elefant (@CarolynElefant) asked a darn good question over the weekend, “Can these legal startups survive an economic downturn?”

TechCrunch contributer Bastiann Janmaat (@BastiannJanmaat) pondered this question: Are startups selling to startups building a house of cards? Bastian observes:

“B2B companies whose customers are other early stage B2B companies put themselves doubly at risk: Not only are startups failure-prone by nature, but an early stage company with strong fundamentals can still falter if its client base is vulnerable to market corrections.”

Bastiann goes on to describe that startup-centric companies most likely to weather a recession offer services that provide meaningful cost savings and are sticky – meaning that they’re so ingrained in the company’s infrastructure that they’re as painful to remove as a sticky band-aid. Bastiann offers some examples of companies that meet this 21st century version of Darwinnian survival of the fittest test — Amazon Web Services (AWS), a cloud-based provider that is both cheaper than a company owning its own servers and to much of a hassle to change or Gusto and Zenefits, payroll and HR platforms that are integrated in many startups’ operations and therefore harder to eliminate.

Both Elefant and Janmatt reference UpCounsel, an online marketplace to find lawyers, as being at risk bevause of the possibility of being circumvented by other services.

Getting sticky sounds like getting to the point where you are part of the “plumbing  of the Internet.” Up or down economy, there’s always something flowing through the net – people need your pipes. While most dot-com companies failed 15 years ago, Cisco stood strong.

Take my company, LexBlog, as an example. We’ve long been viewed as an agency providing custom design and development with deep expertise in blogs and social media. Rightfully so, we positioned ourselves as this.

But over the last year we’ve made a heavy investment in software by building a new publishing platform with WordPress as its core. Rather than our designers and developers developing custom sites over two or three days, we can provide custom user interfaces in two or three hours on publishing software that receives regular upgrades and feature enhancements. Better user experience at much lower cost.

This pivot puts LexBlog into the “plumbing category.” Whether a law firm, public relations agency, marketing company, website developer, media player or publishing company, you need software on which to publish, whether for yourself or for your clients and customers. Publishing and its software are not going away. We’re getting closer to the plumbing.

I’d add to Elefant’s and Janmatt’s comments that those companies operating at profit are much more apt to survive an economic downturn. A large initial investment from a financial partner or not, measuring success with traffic and users proved fatal to Internet companies the last time we had heavy venture capital investment followed by a declining economy.

Startup entrepreneurs and their investors are not the only losers in such a downturn. Lawyers and law firms who start using a product billed as successful because of money raised and traffic/user numbers (often inflated) take a hit. Incorporating what turns out to be a failed service or product into one’s practice management, marketing or professional development efforts can prove to be a waste. A firm’s clients can even be effected.

Don’t get me wrong innovation in legal technology is a good thing. Human and capital resources flowing into the area is driving real innovation benefiting lawyers and the people we serve. But as history has shown us, not all of the legal startups will survive.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Peter Abrahamsen 

I’ve been attending ALM’s LegalTech Show in New York for the better part of a decade.

LexBlog has never exhibited as a vendor, we don’t buy the type of solutions the exhibitors offer and I’ve only spoken there on a couple of occasions. But I go year after year and I am sure I will be back next year.

Here’s eleven things I learned from this year:

  • I still don’t like crowds. There are thousands of people in attendance. I was told there were over 10,000 people registered to attend over three days. There were hundreds of exhibitors along often narrow walk ways crowded with people. Getting a place at the Hilton, or even at hotels nearby, to sit or relax was darn near impossible.
  • E-discovery remains the emphasis of the show. I can see why after finding out over dinner that the average e-discovery transaction is about $1.8 million.
  • Companies way over-do the trinkets and draws to their booths. This year we had folks dressed in all orange and a booth with puppies – they may have been the same crew.
  • The exhibitors are getting increasingly younger. Take that from someone approaching 60 way too fast. I often wonder though if the these people selling know as much about their product and what it offers as the lawyers, tech and information/knowledge management people they are selling to.
  • The vast majority of sellers and their public relations people continue to lack any understanding of the power of social media. Some don’t leverage blogging and social media at all. Many of those using social media do so to broadcast who they are and where you should come to see them. Rather than connect with you in an engaging fashion, I continue to get emails from public relations professionals asking me to read their release and meet their CEO’s on products I know little or anything about.
  • Blogging and using social media makes one a draw. You are in high demand to attend events, meet people, go to dinners and discuss deals with strategic partners.
  • The ALM folks continue to work very hard to put on a good event. I laud my friend Henry Dicker, their VP of Global Events, for the work he and his team do. Henry is also a as cordial a host as you could find anywhere and makes you feel at home (to the extent humanly possible at a show that large) and want to come back.
  • New York is a city like no other for holding a show. Restaurants and pubs are everywhere. Central Park is the finest place in the world to run. New Yorkers, comprised of folks from all over all over the world, have as a people an unequaled positive attitude. Many of the major law firms are based in New York so you’ll have many of their professionals at the show and you can visit firms when in town.
  • Entrepreneurs. For an entrepreneur at heart and in business, I love comparing notes with other entrepreneurs. Sharing war stories over meals and beers is a heck of a lot fun — and uplifting when you find out you are not the only one who has made the same dumb mistakes and has the same challenges. Some how, most of us all survive from year to year.
  • Buying beer for people remains a drawn, creates good buzz and generates goodwill. Thanks to Michigan State Law School for co-hosting a “Beer for Bloggers” with LexBlog.
  • It’s all about the people. Whether it’s company owners, reporters, fellow lawyers, publishers or professionals working for companies, it is a wonderful to reconnect with people year after year. Many you’ll just bump into in the hallways and pick up conversations like old friends. I was invited to a couple dinners where the hosts (two very fine companies) pulled together an eclectic group of people for dinner and wine around large tables so we could meet and engage each other.

Thanks for the good company and see you next year.

I will be in New York City this week from Tuesday through Saturday. I’ll be there attending LegalTech as well as meeting with LexBlog Network members. Please look me up if you’d like to get together.

One thing I’ll be doing is brief video interviews of lawyers, companies, and organizations using blogs and social media for professional and business developemnt. The videos will be running (almost) immediately on Facebook.

If you think you’re doing a nice job using social media, including blogging, and have had some success, let me know me know if you’re up for a brief interview.

LegalTech, if you have never been, is the largest legal technology show and conference of the year. The conference provides me an opportunity to see the latest in legal technology, get feedback regarding our work at LexBlog and our LexBlog Network (LXBN), and spend time with entrepreneurs and leaders.

New York City also happens to be the home of a lot of our network members, ranging from small firms to the largest in the world.

I want to spend time with as many as I can briefing them on the upgrades and features coming to the LexBlog publishing platform this month. I want to get their feedback and hear from them how we can best help them.

During my time with lawyers and marketing/business dvelopment professionals I’m sure we’ll also get to discuss effective blogging and social media. Unfortunately, too many lawyers go in circles without realizing new business. I always enjoy helping lawyers achieve much more.

So please do look me up. Whether a meeting at your office, a meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner), coffee or a drink I’d enjoy meeting and to help you, if you’d like. My email is kevin@lexblog.com and my cell to call or text is 206 321 3627.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Dirk Knight

You can tell it’s LegalTech time again.

By LegalTech I am referring to ALM’s LegalTech Show in New York City the first week in February.

It is the largest and, arguably, the most important legal technology show of the year. The show brings together lawyers, corporate leaders, legal technology companies, large consulting companies and law firm technology, information, and knowledge professionals.

The reason I know the show is coming is by the rise in legal technology companies seeking to engage me via Twitter, LinkedIn and email. It always starts in early January.

The reason is that legal technology companies are starting to pay attention to influential bloggers in the legal industry. They, or their marketing companies, want to their companies and products blogged about and, perhaps, mentioned on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

The problem is the companies and their marketing and PR professionals are ill-equipped to leverage the power of blogs and other social media.

The vast majority don’t have a clue what blogging and social media are all about. Whether it’s using blogs and social media themselves or getting those who do to speak favorably of the companies and their products.

They don’t blog. If they do, it’s usually a blog inside a website looking like marketing collateral, as opposed to an independent publication.

Their blog posts are about the company and product development, as opposed to engaging in industry “conversation.” The tech company bloggers do not engage other bloggers, reporters, industry leaders and influencers. The blog is not authored by company principals, executives or inventors — the people who can authentically establish a brand and build relationships.

Many of the companies defer to marketing and public relationships professionals for blogging and social media. This is death if you are looking to establish real trust and relationships with other bloggers.

The companies do not understand that LegalTech should be an opportunity to meet the many bloggers and social media influencers whom they have met online over the course of the past year via the company’s blog and social media efforts. Bloggers who have probably talked about the company and its products on their blogs already.

Rather than hoping that someone will blog about you from LegalTech so you have one fleeting moment in the sun, you should be expecting bloggers and other influencers to seek you out and come up and give you a hug. Wouldn’t that feel better than tweeting out your booth number so that someone lost in the wilderness stops by?

No question companies use blogs to build relationships and word of mouth with lawyers and law firms. In a meeting at LexBlog this week I was presented info on a good number of non-law firm blog publishers on LXBN, LexBlog’s network of 8,000 blogging lawyers. These companies and professionals are seeking to grow their business by engaging those on the LexBlog Network and other legal bloggers and industry influencers.

Don’t get me wrong, LegalTech is a great show for bringing people, ideas, commerce and media coverage together. ALM does a great job. I enjoy coming each year. I like spending time with entrepreneurs and company leaders.

I just wonder how all these technology companies and consultants making significant spends on people, booths and entertainment can miss so badly such time and cost effective ways to build a brand, establish trust and sell their products — blogging and ancillary social media.

At times I want to walk up to a booth and rather than “be sold” something, sell them on something – how to really use blogs and social media to grow their business.

LexBlog, in partnership with ALM (American Lawyer Media), is providing coverage of ALM’s LegalTech Show in New York this week.

Using the LexBlog Network, LXBN, allows ALM to extend the reach of its LegalTech show beyond the walls of the conference center to LexBlog’s Network of over 7,000 lawyers around the world and to the Internet community at large through the LXBN network site, YouTube, this blog, and Twitter.

Coverage will include video interviews by the LXBN editorial team of presenters, exhibitors, attendees and sponsors as well as a curated feed of blogs and Tweets being published by attendees of the show. You can follow this coverage on LXBN’s LegalTech Show Channel on LXBN.

Here’s an interview with Aderant CEO’s Chris Giglio and VP of Marketing Jim Hammond on the “New Aderant” and Aderant Expert 8.0. Aderant, headquartered in Atlanta, is the largest global independent software provider to law firms around the world.

Follow the Twitter hashtag, #LTNY, LXBN LegalTech NY, and this blog for further coverage.

LegalTech social mediaThe news release Is worthless in today’s social media age writes marketing communications strategist and blogger, Aaron Perult.

I receive at least 10 relatively illegible news releases daily (and many reporters tell me they get up to 300 each day). And rarely, if ever, can I get past the subject line in my e-mail inbox. Most of them simply seem to take up space.

Perult practices what he preaches.

I recently helped announce the licensing of a new high profile video gaming experience. Instead of spending $1,000-plus on a news release–and it was definitely what most would consider news release worthy due to the brands involved–we simply sent out a two-sentence pitch to a few important news outlets, including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Rolling Stone and Billboard.

Once the stories posted on January 13, it spread throughout traditional media, the blogosphere and social media platforms and, in essence, we received the same effect as a news release might have had in the times of Alex P. Keaton.

As a popular law blogger I get 10 to 20 news releases a day. On the eve of LegalTech in New York last year I received as many as 25 or 30 a day. When I got to LegalTech CEO’s and pitchmen wanted to get my time to share news of their product releases.

One or two of the releases and pitches were of interest to me. But in the vast majority of cases, I knew nothing of the company and their services or products were totally unrelated to things I blog about.

LegalTech is next week in New York. I’m noticing companies exhibiting at LegalTech and releasing products there are starting to follow me on Twitter. Some will share on Twitter what booth they are in. Most appear to have little knowledge how to use social media to build relationships with the people they are looking to cover them.

My guess though is that l’ll still see a steady stream of news releases in advance of the conference.

Though there are thousands of legal professionals blogging, Tweeting, and using other forms of social media, most of the companies serving the legal industry who will be exhibiting at LegalTech have little understanding how to leverage social media. Very few of their CEO’s blog or use Twitter — at least in an effective way.

Legal reporters and publishers can then continue to act as the principal means of reporting on product releases and developments. Those legal reporters and publishers remain a captive audience for news releases.

We’ll see news releases for LegalTech again this year, but I think their days are numbered.

I’ll be at LegalTech next week. If you you have something of interest to lawyers and law firms in the area of client development, marketing, social media, and the like that may be of interest to my readers and I, please let me know.

If you’re interested in discussing how to use social media (blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc) to effectively spread word of your company and its services/products I’d be happy to get together for coffee or a beer.

LegalTechLegalTech remains one of the primary legal conferences out there – clearly LexBlog thinks so, since we sent three members of our executive team to New York for this week’s event.

Though LexBlog CEO Kevin O’Keefe isn’t presenting at the conference this year, he can be found there along with Vice President of Client Development Kevin McKeown and Vice President of Product Development Jake Ludington.

Why is LegalTech important? It’s where people who usually can only communicate through phone, email, or Twitter can meet off-line and discuss some of the biggest issues in legal technology. Like last year, when many lawyers and legal professional realized for the first time how Twitter could be used to follow a conference from afar.

There’s the usual e-discovery coverage this year, but also hot-button topics like "Social Networking in the Corporate Environment" and "Facebook: Perspectives on Corporate eDiscovery and Social Media".

"LegalTech brings some of the leading minds from businesses supporting the legal profession together," Kevin O’Keefe says. "Meeting face-to-face with business people you know otherwise allows relationships to grow."

Many firms who are members of the LexBlog Network are represented as well. One blogger in particular is e-discovery attorney Peter Vogel of Gardere Wynne Sewell. Peter writes the Vogel Internet, Information Technology and e-Discovery Blog, and he’ll be presenting in a two-part panel on Feb. 3: "Recurring E-Discovery Challenges Part I: Avoiding the Hidden Pitfalls" and "Recurring E-Discovery Challenges Part II: Leadership Lessons from the Trenches".

For coverage of LegalTech, you can follow the #LTNY or #LegalTech hashtags.

Kevin and the others are looking forward to meeting informally with lawyers, legal marketing professionals and others serving the legal profession during the week, and if anyone else wants to set up a meeting or just to chat, you can email Kevin or call his cell at 206-321-3627.

And if any members of the LexBlog Network are in attendance and blogging about it, we’ll be sure to highlight your commentary in this space as well.

LinkedIn EventsLinkedIn Events is now being used to highlight upcoming legal conferences. LegalTech NewYork, running from April 1 to 3, and the ABA TechShow in Chicago, running from March 25 to 27, are already displayed at LinkedIn Events.

Go to the ABA TechShow and the LegalTech New York pages at LinkedIn to RSVP that you will be attending. Your attendance will then be displayed at the respective event page and your network will be notified that you’ll be attending the conference on their LinkedIn home page.

LinkedIn Events allows you to see what events your LinkedIn network is attending and allows you to find events recommended to you based on your industry and job function. LinkedIn Events features allow you to:

  • Search for conferences.
  • Post important conferences to your profile.
  • Promote a conference.
  • See who will be attending a conference.
  • Show when you are presenting or an exhibitor.
  • Invite other contacts to attend.
  • Send a Network update out to your network telling them you will be attending a conference.

Legal conferences can be listed by conference coordinators or by you as an attendee. As a conference coordinator you can promote the conference across your LinkedIn network, including to members of your LinkedIn association group.

If you’re attending or presenting at a legal conference, LinkedIn Events is a perfect way to let your LinkedIn network know. You can even invite others to join you at the conference.

For legal solution providers, you’ll want to list that you’re attending or exhibiting at a conference. This will allow other attendees using LinkedIn will know you’re there.

In advance of today’s talk on Twitter at LegalTech West Coast, I sent out a request on Twitter and also asked some LexBlog clients who use Twitter to share any client development and/or networking success stories.

The response has been pretty overwhelming — attorneys and legal professionals from firms large and small have shared their positive stories of what an active Twitter presence has done for them.

Here are some of their stories and anecdotes:

See more stories and details after the jump:

Continue Reading Twitter client development success stories – lawyers and legal professionals chime in