Long procurement processes and integration are among challenges that need to be overcome by the new wave of 'lawtech' startups when selling to firms, residents of a Law Society-backed technology incubator were told last night. 

A 'pitch day' event at Barclays LawTech Eagle Lab in Notting Hill, London, allowed residents to present their products and services to industry experts. It heard from Ruby Datum, a  virtual data collaboration platform; AI-powered data analytics company ayfie, LawPanel, a flexible platform for automating trademark management; Legatics, which automates deal processing; Data Solver, an expert system for privacy and data protection; Allatus Unity, a ‘regtech’ solution for financial services legal functions; Thirdfort, a new way to securely manage property transactions; Legal Utopia, an AI engine that uses natural language processing to provide consumer legal advice and Avvoka, an end-to-end contract automation engine.

Several Eagle Labs products were developed in incubators run by law firms. Avvoka is still a resident of Allen & Overy’s Fuse, from where Legatics also graduated, while Thirdfort is part of the 2018 cohort at Mishcon de Reya’s MDR LAB.

A panel discussion, chaired by Kemp Little technology partner Emma Wright, discussed issues facing Eagle Lab businesses. A key theme was the need for more collaboration between start-ups. Law firms’ long procurement processes are a common challenge and Anthony Vigneron, director, legal technology solutions at Clifford Chance, warned that all law firms have security and governance protocols that cannot be worked around. They also need to consider integration issues between stand-alone applications and their core systems.

Nadine Bairle, senior strategy manager at Clyde & Co, commented that Eagle Labs represents an opportunity for start-ups to collaborate on integration and marketing initiatives as well as technology. If start-ups worked together on security and integration and presented a suite of products (with appropriate interfaces) as a consortium, they could help shorten procurement processes.

Simon Drane, director of business development at the Law Society, observed that start-ups with products that address specific processes or pain points should discover what else is out there and consider partnerships and collaboration as part of their marketing strategy.