Mind the Gap!

Mind the (implementation) gap!

The good people at Legal Geek and Thomson Reuters have released an update to their excellent LawTech Startup Map.

It is a great snapshot of the legal tech scene and we are delighted to be listed again in the 'Legal Engineer' category.

... but what does 'legal engineering' really mean and, we hear you ask, what on earth makes a legal engineer?

We're a legal engineering firm and have been open for business for just over a year. Our organisation is totally driven by a vision to be the go to legal engineering business in the world.

This means we think about the topic a lot!

Since we started Wavelength, our legal engineering skills have been in high demand. When we speak to customers and key people in the market, they tell us this is mainly because we understand and act upon the following things well:

- We understand legal teams, both in law firms and in-house legal departments. Collectively members of our team have worked for many years within a variety of different firms and legal teams, and Wavelength itself is a regulated ABS law firm.

- We know the legal technology landscape. We have great relationships with many technology suppliers but we are strictly independent. No part of our business model relies on commissions from technology providers.

- We study how the legal services market is transforming, in particular with the application of Artificial Intelligence. We're referenced in chapter 8 of Joanna Goodman’s recent publication “Robots in Law: How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Legal Service”, discussing legal engineering and the importance of data.

- We 'get' data, legal data, confidentiality, conflict, privilege, data protection, and methods of anonymizing and pseudonymizing data.

- We understand the process of creating new technology products, how to reduce inertia and remove barriers to their exploration and development. It's not just about what current technology is capable of, but how and why it works, and which technologies are (or will soon be) most appropriate for particular use cases.

We believe that good legal engineers have a bias for action, progress, feedback and learning based on experience and engagement. It's also very important for our engineering teams to understand not only law, but also legal process, legal technologies, and the project methodologies that enhance the chances of project success.

Over the last year it has become clear to us that, in most situations, our value proposition is that we proactively and successfully occupy the space that exists between professional legal teams and legal technologies.

We call this space the 'implementation gap'.

Sometimes this gap needs to be filled with bespoke software (that we can build), sometimes we fill it with a 'bricolage' of off-the-shelf and existing tech or process redesign - but in every case we manage data in the gap. This includes data quality, use, flow, analytics, visualisation and architecture.

So, legal engineering is a new but vital discipline that requires a host of skills to efficiently occupy the implementation gap. And one thing's for sure - a lot of it's about the data!

Peter Lee