Legal tech vendors say they are unbowed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, and are so far keeping new product releases on schedule despite volatile markets and disruptions in how their law firm and corporate clients operate.
Some vendor executives recognize that a prolonged national emergency spurred by the virus could cause legal industry clients to reassess their need for new products and services.
But for now, many in legal tech—especially larger, well-established companies—say disruptions to the pipeline to develop and implement legal technology caused by COVID-19 seem far away.
Technology and legal services company UnitedLex isn’t delaying any product or service rollout as a result of the virus, CEO Dan Reed told Bloomberg Law in a statement.
“Digital is in our DNA and we are designed as an organization to deliver even with a primarily remote-first work model,” said Reed. “We continue to monitor and assess the situation and can wholeheartedly speak to our clients’ ongoing reliable access to business applications and information.”
Legal industry priorities in the U.S. are being tested by the outbreak. The situation could evolve quickly over the next few weeks and months, as the health care system, supply chains, and economy take on new burdens.
Two top executives from Veritone, which offers artificial intelligence-enabled e-discovery and transcription and translation services, said they haven’t seen a drop-off in work since the coronavirus hit. They say this is reflected by the new contracts they’ve signed with police department and advertising agency clients, as well as as one legal client in a transcription matter.
The company has been aided by the fact that its services are cloud-based, making them more accessible for remote workers, said Jon Gacek, Veritone’s head of government, legal and compliance, and Chris Ricciuti, VP of product for government, legal and compliance.
Yet the legal tech landscape could change, said Gacek, if the country faces worst-case virus scenarios and the industry is forced to reevaluate its spending and business priorities. He said there could come a point when clients “are going to start reassessing” the value of each vendor they use.
In some recent cases, corporate legal departments have faced unexpected virus-related crises that involve, for example, contracts and leases that need to be speedily reviewed.
“What we’ve heard is that people’s focus is changing, and we need to pivot to adjust to client needs,” said Helgi Maki a consultant for Exigent Group, a legal services firm.
For Ben Levi, co-founder and chief operating officer of InCloudCounsel, a legal tech provider, the outbreak has been “unprecedented” in some ways.
Yet the pandemic hasn’t been as disruptive to his business as it could have been, he said, citing a strong company balance sheet and the fact that his team was already set up to work from home.
“We’re well-positioned to ride this out,” he said.
Big Law firms that have sizable innovation teams and work on building legal tech tools as part of their services, have also been debating how to proceed.
Many at these firms have taken their work remote, but it hasn’t put a damper on tech teams’ plans to introduce new products.
Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe is still poised to roll out the next version of the Orrick Dashboard on May 1, according to partner Don Keller. The tool would enable the firm and its tech company clients to access clients’ corporate legal information and to collaborate.
Keller is also chief executive officer and co-founder of Joinder, Orrick’s “next generation” legal tech platform that still plans to spin off from the firm as a separate company this summer.
“Legal technology is even more important than ever,” said Wendy Butler Curtis, Orrick’s chief innovation officer in a statement. “In the last 10 days we have spoken to numerous clients about tech in the market and been in touch with multiple new tech companies. The process continues.”