The LegalTech Industry Today

For legal services providers other than lawyers in law firms, [there] is the opportunity to build new and disruptive business models and to demonstrate their value as full-fledged members of the legal industry.

There’s a lot going in in the LegalTech industry, says TechCrunch.


Contemporary Commentary

From the Investor Perspective

Law Online

Early Stage Investment Templates for Startups

Legalese is importing all of these agreements. After you configure your deal in a spreadsheet once, Legalese will compile all the agreements you need, automatically translated for your jurisdiction.

Workflow Solutions for Startups

Workflow Apps for Specific Verticals

  • CP Desk is a good example of a vertical-specific legal application – in this case for shipping.
  • The Doc Yard is a polished app for lawyers to address the paint point of deal negotiation and closing.
  • Legal Space is a digital immigration and visa solution for relocating to the USA.
  • Iubenda generates T&Cs for privacy policies and cookies
  • Wevorce
  • ParleyPro
  • GreenLines
  • BrightLeaf
  • Trademarkia
  • Chinsay contract management for freight
  • Specifio automates patent applications
  • Clydecode is a consultancy service by Clyde & Co specialising in smart contract advice
  • Surukamhelps corporate legal teams automate their workflows and the decision-making process with NLP and ML
  • ICourt does case management
  • Legal Miner offers litigation analysis with specific track records for judges and lawyers

Template Libraries for Startups

Education for Startups

Cap Tables

Other Tools for Startups and Investors

Document Generators by Law Firms

Document Generators and More by Non-Law Firms

Document Assembly for Law Firms and In-House Counsel

Every law firm has proprietary clause libraries. These are open

Github Repository

Academic Research and Development

Borrowing from social science, these apply computational data-science techniques to the legal world.

Contract Formalization and Natural Language Generation

Smart Contract Implementations and Papers

Smart Statutes, Digital Legislation

Electronic Signatures and Contract Management

Adobe EchoSign is the well-respected granddaddy, modulo some grumpiness. Competitors include:

Contract Lifecycle Management

Lawyers and Law Firms who get it

Other Interesting Things

Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing

Reliable natural language processing is a vastly harder problem than domain-specific-languages, compilers, and natural language generation, but we wish them the best. Should they be successful, drafting contracts which meet their AI’s approval will be straight-forward because we can run the contracts through the AI ourselves.

  • Kira is used by a surprising number of law firms.
  • Peter does for legal what Clara does for appointments
  • Riverview Law is also developing an artificial assistant.
  • Fagougou is an artificial assistant which predicts case outcomes based on precedent
  • ThoughtRiver does NLP to read contracts and reason about them
  • Perceptiv also does NLP to read and extract data from finance contracts

Unauthorized Practice of Law

Wait, aren’t a lot of these startups breaking the law? Well, maybe the law is broken.

Wait, then how is Legalese different or better than all these resources?

Most of the resources above are document-oriented. Each template, for instance, gets you a single agreement for a set of parties to execute. Typically, you fill in the blanks in a Word doc, or in a web app wizard. The result is flattened onto the page. This is fine for simple agreements, like an NDA.

But some deals involve multiple documents, all of which have to agree with one another. Think about an investment deal which needs a Term Sheet, a Subscription Agreement, a Shareholders Agreement, and a Deed of Ratification and Accession, not to mention all the corp-sec Directors’ and Members’ Resolutions needed to validate each corporate act. The same names and terms appear in multiple documents. (A deal begins to look like something you can – and should – configure and compile using m4 and make!)

So, the world needs workflow-oriented solutions.

  • Clerky is workflow-oriented. It has the notion of Document Sets. But Clerky doesn’t support a lot of workflows. They support incorporation but not investment. (At time of writing, 20150504) And the templates are closed, so you can’t add your own.
  • Valcu is worth a look too.
  • Docracy is more open. Their vision is to be Github for legal documents. Their web editing UI is pretty nifty, and you can fork any document. But they’re document-, not workflow-oriented. And you have to be a lawyer to add a new document.

Legalese is both workflow-oriented and open. Each workflow in Legalese produces one or more agreements for the parties to execute. Instead of editing the document directly, you describe the particulars of the parties and the terms of the deal in a separate spreadsheet. Legalese compiles your workflow’s docset by combining the spreadsheet with the templates. To rebuild your docs, just hit make.

For Unix hackers, this is pseudocode for what happens behind the scenes of the Web UI:

$ make model seedround send

loading negotiated term sheet from Google Sheets...
loading cap table from Google Sheets...
loading party particulars from Google Sheets...
downloading latest legal rule engine for relevant jurisdiction...
fetching missing information via regulatory APIs...
fetching latest version of agreement templates from Github...
computing amendments required for constitutional documents...
parsing articles-of-association.pdf
computing corporate actions and resolutions required...
parsing history of corporate actions... 16 PDFs found...
analysis complete. constructing company model... done.
computing dependency graph for seed round financing... staging... producing PDFs...

stage 1 PDF: Term Sheet for Seed Round
stage 1 PDF: New Articles of Association describing Vesting/ESOP and Series AA shares
stage 1 PDF: Directors' Resolutions Announcing Fundraising and Alterations to Articles
stage 1 PDF: Members' Resolutions Approving Alterations to Articles of Association
stage 1 PDF: Volunteer Agreements -- IP Assignment, Confidentiality, Noncompete
stage 1 PDF: Shareholder Agreements -- Drags/Tags, Preemptive & Information Rights
stage 1 PDF: Description of Vesting Scheme and ESOP
stage 1 PDF: Directors' Resolutions Announcing Vesting Scheme and ESOP
stage 1 PDF: Members' Resolutions Approving Vesting Scheme and ESOP
stage 1 PDF: Directors' Resolutions Announcing Issue of New Shares for Vesting/ESOP
stage 1 PDF: Members' Resolutions Approving Issue of New Shares for Vesting/ESOP
stage 1 PDF: Directors Notify Shareholders of Pro Rata Rights for Vesting/ESOP
stage 1 PDF: Shareholders Waive Pro Rata Rights for Vesting/ESOP
stage 1 PDF: Directors' Resolutions to Issue and Allot New Vesting/ESOP Shares
stage 1 PDF: Instruction to Corporate Secretary to File Vesting/ESOP Shares

stage 2 PDF: Checklist Bundle for Conditions Precedent
stage 2 PDF: Cap Table, before Series AA
stage 2 PDF: Cap Table, after Series AA
stage 2 PDF: Investment Agreement for Seed Round Series AA
stage 2 PDF: Deed of Ratification and Accession for Seed Round Series AA

stage 3 PDF: Directors' Resolutions to Issue and Allot New Series AA Shares
stage 3 PDF: Instruction to Corporate Secretary to File Series AA Shares
stage 3 PDF: Series AA Share Certificates
sending Stage 1 PDFs for signature via Adobe EchoSign...

seed round Stage 1 paperwork sent. Please check your email.
will poll Stage 1 paperwork status once an hour.
will send Stage 2 PDFs when all Stage 1 PDFs are received.
will send Stage 3 PDFs when all Stage 2 PDFs are received and funds arrive.

Legalese takes openness to a new level: the templates sit in public Github repositories (right now, the templates are in XML, which admittedly might scare off some people.) And the configuration spreadsheets live in Google Spreadsheets. So you can import and export your data as you see fit.

Legalese has global ambitions. Most of the above services focus on one, at most two jurisdictions. Legalese serves people who live outside the U.S. too.

Legalese is Web 2.0 the way YouTube, Wikipedia, and Github are Web 2.0. Convincing or paying lawyers to upload their precious precedents doesn’t scale. We’re betting on user-generated content. Maybe only one in a hundred users will upload their lawyer-drafted documents into Legalese; with enough users, that should be enough. Maybe we’ll even have Kickstarter for desired contracts!