On legal tech in Norway

Summer is here and Norway is closed for business. This gives time to reflect on the state of legal tech in Norway: a who’s who, if you want, to the legal tech actors in Norway.

 

Past

When we founded Law Tech Factory in June 2017, the landscape looked quite different. In our early marketing research, we made note of competing projects that we would have to be mindful of.

Some competition came from companies selling templates for legal contracts online. A number of webpages such as Dine Penger and DNB offered templates for free. AdvokatOnline (formerly Akelius) and Rettsdata were among the few that commercialized this. As far as we understand, Dib also dabbles in the field of selling legal documents online.

We further noted that some Norwegian law firms were using international due diligence tools. This includes Luminance, which was used by BAHR, and Kira, which was used by DLA Piper. Both productgs  seems to be doing quite well in terms of acquiring new customers.

Finally, there was Lawbotics, which launched an online generator for shareholder agreements at about the same time that we launched a generator for cohabitation agreements.

These companies were around when we founded the company, and were featured in our 10-page business plan that we submitted to the Norwegian Research Council back in June 2017. The Research Council of Norway ultimately funded the development and commercialization of "Lucy" (after Lucy Smith), the first artificially intelligent legal assistant in Norway.

 

Present

Much has happened in the last twelve months. To say that legal service delivery has been disrupted, or even mildly jostled, would be an exaggeration. However, there are a lot more actors now compared to when we first got interested in the intersection between technology and the law.

Law Tech Factory is no longer the only actor that creates legal chatbots. Convertelligence built a chatbot for the Homeowner’s Association (also named Lucy). Ligl in Stavanger is currently on the customer list of Boost, which also builds chatbots. Oh, and Simplifai just hired a law graduate to develop a legal bot named JUKO.

Justify is another startup out of Stavanger, which focuses on inheritance tech. They are a part of Innovation Dock and is one out of few legal tech startups spearheaded by a lawyer.

Flykrav is a pretty cool newcomer. Although similar projects exist (including this, this and this), Flykrav is a demonstration of what can be done when law students also know how to code.

Bizbot is not strictly legal tech, but they are helping companies with paperwork, including legal documents, and just raised NOK 4.4 million in funding. This is decent in the world of legal tech. In comparison, Lawbotics recently raised NOK 4 million. There's some pre-seed funding going on, but apart from Lawbotics and Bizbot, we are not aware of any noteworthy investments in legal tech startups

Gyldendal Rettsdata released the Smart Lawyer app for Microsoft Word, built in collaboration with Norch, which enables easy access to legal sources while writing documents.

Adall has a timely focus on privacy and does some cool stuff in collaboration with Arktis. They did the first legal tech hackathon in Norway, which is pretty cool.

Hjort recently started using the HighQ work platform. HighQ is a platform of sorts for secure collaboration with clients.

Others, such as BAHR, have done things differently. There’s the BAHR Law Tech Lab and the BAHR LEAP, which looks pretty interesting. It will be interesting to see what exactly they will be doing.

There’s some law students that are working on their own projects as well. Some are derivative (i.e. fighting parking tickets, like DoNotPay). Others are geared towards different niche markets, such as taxes and transactions. We’ll see if they get to market any time soon.


 

Future

It's interesting to see what kind of companies will drive innovation in the legal space. There is a lot of actors that sees the legal space as fruit that is both low-hanging and ripe for automation, because the field is supposedly so backward. This leads some to believe that a webform that merges data into a document has something to do with cutting-edge innovation.

Law firms tend to display a keen interest in legal tech. We have written about law firms and innovation before. A current trend we have noticed is that law firms that have hired their own innovation officers are really hard to connect with for startups. In contrast, companies without innovation officers are much more responsive and show a lot more interest. In the future, it would be cool if the innovation chiefs were not too busy, or too risk-averse, to talk to startups.

Who should we watch out for then? Adall is certainly interesting. The founder has yet to have a technical team in place, but she is still on our list of who’s to watch going forward. Flykrav is also worth noting - perhaps not in its current form, but it's cool to see how solo founders with both a legal and a technical competence can develop and commercialize MVPs by themselves.

We are curious about the commercialization of tools for contract automation and management, including Lawbotics’ LEXOLVE. A lot of blood, sweat and tears may be left unshedded if the software is implemented in the right way.

This isn’t a blog post about Law Tech Factory, but we are working on some solid stuff. We have built our own bot framework from scratch, which can be used by anyone to create their own chatbots. We are currently building a new webpage and doing a soft launch in August (read September). We are also developing a couple of chatbots for large enterprises in Norway, including in the realm of legal service provision. If anyone wants to join us, we are hiring.

Most of all, it will be interesting to see which startups generate value, and which other actors in the legal field will benefit from that value. There is a lot of talk about legal tech, and now there seems to be some more funding available as well. At some point there should be value as well.

 

Endnote

This blog post is not really an endorsement of any of the companies, and is not really an exhaustive list either. It's just some reflections offered to whoever is interested. Also, we do not have any economic interest in any of the companies above, except (duh..) Law Tech Factory.