Three takeaways from a discussion with Evan Wong about Australia’s LegalTech scene

Three takeaways from a discussion with Evan Wong about Australia’s LegalTech scene

Last month I had the chance to speak with Evan Wong from checkbox.ai. As the discussion was very insightful, I wanted to share the key insights with all of you. 

1. The legal services industry is undergoing a tectonic shift

The legal services industry in Australia is facing similar challenges as in Switzerland. The “more for less” mentality puts especially commercial law firms under pressure to not only become more efficient but to also make sure they can meet their clients’ demands in the required time frame. Alternative Legal Services providers, until a couple of years ago a young sector, add to the pressure traditional law firms experience in Australia due to their worldwide network and competitive offerings.

Nowadays, to win tenders, law firms need to be able to explain what technology they use and how they will be able to meet their clients’ needs. Fixed fee arrangements are more common than one would expect. 

2. Use of cloud services is the de facto standard in Australia

What surprised me by for the most in the discussion with Evan was the fact that the use of cloud services by lawyers is way less controversial in Australia than in Switzerland. LegalTech providers are not judged based on whether they offer an on-premise solution but based on whether they fulfill the requirements to run their piece of software in the cloud safely. As far as I know, few lawyers in Switzerland adopt that perspective and make use of the cloud. 

I regard the use of the cloud as a game-changer for the LegalTech ecosystem. Cloud computing offers organizations the opportunity to access scales of economy and efficiency that they cannot reach themselves. For cybersecurity, this can mean that issues are managed more effectively than any single organization (e.g. legal services provider) can on their own. Hence, users of cloud-based software, namely software-as-a-service (SaaS), will, in general, be able to benefit from a more reliable and secure service compared to on-premise solutions. 

Unfortunately, time didn’t allow me to dive deeper to discuss the use of cloud services in Australia from a privacy/criminal law point of view. 

3. LegalTech is here to stay

The Australian legal services industry has been a consumer of LegalTech products from the US/UK already for quite a while (e.g. HotDocs). In this regard, Australia’s homegrown LegalTech startups benefit from an already educated market. 

According to Evan, a surprisingly big demand for LegalTech, including his checkbox.ai platform, comes from legal departments at corporations.  The role of legal departments is rapidly evolving from being a risk manager to becoming a trusted advisor. Due to ever-increasing complexity in businesses, costs for both in-house and outside legal services continue to rise. LegalTech can help legal departments to enable their businesses and/or to reduce costs.

Author: David Luescher