Legal Tech Show

Terrapinn hosted the Legal Tech Show and The Accounting and Finance Show over two days in the same venue at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg this past week.

The event was free to delegates and not so free to the sponsoring vendors who were there.

As for the running of the event, I liked the short presentation slots of 30 minutes, it encouraged short, to the point presentations from the speakers, and kept people interested moving from one presentation booth to the next, in between sessions.

Not so great was the open-air presentation setting, which often had you wondering what the speaker was saying, as some of the presentation areas seemed to have more volume for their speaking areas.

An encouraging aspect of the event was the Startup Kiosks, where a number of new players in the market were promoting their products and services. In the coming weeks we will cover one or two of them in more detail.

There were three simultaneous tracks for the event, Legal Tech, Practice Management and Strategies for Success – most of my choices were focused around technology, AI and marketing.

My Observations

Security of law firm data, whether it is client or the firm’s data, is important, but it seems the local market just expects it to be taken care of as a matter of daily business.

AI (artificial intelligence) was spoken about a lot, the cementing fact is that a few of the presenters had actually done work in this space, and they spoke with experience which always makes the presentation more interesting. Also, the message was that law firms must embrace the technology and often these tools could be used internally to improve processes.

Something I chuckled at was that document assembly was spoken about a lot, as if it was the latest thing that had been discovered – forgetting that solutions have been around and in law firms in South Africa for a number of years. I remember 15-20 years ago when trying to sell document assembly, that your first step in the sales presentation was to educate the lawyers on what document assembly was, before trying to sell the product. Maybe they were listening…

Social media on the marketing front, is always interesting and those that spoke had a lot of experience, however it seems they all have a favourite platform. My assumption is that Twitter and LinkedIn offer more to lawyers than Facebook and Instagram – but as rules change and features are added or removed, you might find a very different picture in a year from now.
Alternative billing attracts a lot of attention, but it seems traditional firms are being dragged there kicking and screaming – the overriding factor seems to be when the client insists on the billing happening whichever way they wish.

Alternative Legal Services is growing from strength to strength, and I noticed one or two young firms offering services to other law firms, while getting their own practices up to speed.

POPI was there…. explanations were given on what to do now to comply.

Legal Tech companies are a threat to some services the law firms offer, but I think a bigger threat at the moment is the younger generation – the young lawyer who understands the challenge and sees the opportunity, but then gangs up with a friend who has the technical ability and together they develop a solution which is offered to the consumer at a fraction of the price. These young guns have nothing to lose, they don’t have overheads, no staff, no offices and often no personal costs as they are living at home with their parents.

I like the fact that law firms are now spoilt with the choice of two tech shows to attended. 3 years ago, there weren’t any legal tech shows, last year there was one, this year we have two – next year there may be three!

On my wish list for future legal tech events, can we have more “Been there done that” type of presenters.

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