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The battle to win at legal tech

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When UnitedLex recruited five senior staff with extensive experience at the Big Four accounting firms, the hires were a statement of intent. By appointing senior figures from professional services firms earlier this year, the legal tech company was reinforcing its strategy to offer services as well as products.

Legal technology companies such as UnitedLex are also now winning big investments from backers that include private equity giants — even the Big Four accountancy firms. And this development is another indication of their move into offering new services to compete with lawyers and consultants — and of their increased firepower in a once nascent market. Among the UnitedLex hires were David Clarke, former PwC digital strategy and innovation leader, and Mike Duggan, who was a partner at Deloitte for 10 years.

Q&A with David Edelheit, chief digital and transformation officer at UnitedLex

How has the legal tech market changed over the past five years? Legal technology had been steadily growing pre-pandemic. However, Covid accelerated the importance of automation and visibility. This can be attributed to cost efficiency measures at the C-suite and the higher usage of technology due to people working from home. The latest statistics show that general counsel expect to expand their workload in 2021, and yet 88 per cent are also planning budget cuts. GCs will have to use technology in order to bridge that gap and manage a legal function that is now more disconnected than before.

Will we see consolidation in this market? Consolidation is aggressively happening today, as service providers are merging or struggling to stay relevant, and product companies are being squeezed or joining forces. Business leaders are eliminating providers and piecemeal technologies that fail to deliver value and create third-party risk.

Are you taking anyone’s lunch? For legal departments to succeed, they must show their contribution to the business. This is an exciting time for progressive legal businesses to be part of a long overdue change. Our mission is to quantify, innovate and help our partners adopt a new digital-first mindset. Legal professionals that hold on to the old way of doing things are offering up their lunch in the process.

This story was published in Financial Times. To read more, visit The battle to win at legal tech.