The legal tech industry uses technology and software to facilitate legal transactions and processes online. Custom legal software can be developed to bring expensive in-person legal processes to the web, increasing efficiency and decreasing costs for customers.
Legal tech software takes tradition legal services and moves them to web and mobile experiences, typically decreasing costs and brining efficiency to the legal industry in doing so. A commonly referred to example of legal tech software is LegalZoom. Historically, forming new businesses was an expensive and time consuming process for business owners. Because legal processes are daunting to try to understand, many would pay large legal fees to have things done right due to fear of making a mistake. legalZoom is one of many companies that now brings transparency and affordability to the company formation process. Instead of hiring a law firm or expensive lawyers, you can now incorporate online. While company formation is a prime example of legal technology, even just within business administration there exist many other legal practices and workflows that are expensive and can be streamlined with legal software solutions.
There are many different areas of legal services that can be automated or streamlined with the use of custom legal software. Some areas in which software development can help the legal market include:
Legal contracts are everywhere. Almost every legal transaction includes at least two parties signing a contract. Contract signing can actually be a relatively complicated process in and of itself. For example, in business law certain actions need to be approved by employees, some by shareholders, some by board members, and some by all three of those groups. To make things more complicated, sometimes only a majority of each group needs to approve a legal transaction. In the real world, this leads to a lot of signature and contract wrangling that is slow and inefficient. This can be very frustrating especially for small businesses that need to move quickly. Contract automation can eliminate some of these issues by automating and logic behind legal signatures and using e-signatures.
Different businesses have different legal needs. The startup industry is rapidly involving and often has new laws with little legal precedence. For example, over the past few years investing in private companies and startups has taken off. These companies, however, are not subject to the same financial disclosures as public companies, and thus investments in them are riskier. Online platforms and software to streamline the raising of funds and investing in startups is a relatively new industry that legal tech has enabled.
Another area of startups that many individuals are exposed to through startup jobs is equity ownership or stock option exercising. These are complicated topics for average startup employees to comprehend and mistakes made can be very costly to individuals. Thus, it is another area that software can improve.
Of course, all business both public and private have unique legal needs. While we are not currently in a place to replace legal business experts, there are indeed common legal needs found throughout business law that can be heavily automated with legal software.