This post is part of our new Future of Law series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.
The following is an interview we recently had with Neal Nagely, CEO of BookLawyer.
1. What’s the history of BookLawyer? Where and how did you begin?
NN: While practicing law (commercial litigation and appeals) as an associate with a law firm in Dallas, I spent 30-40% of my time conducting legal research on the procedural and substantive legal issues related to each new case. I soon realized that although another lawyer in our firm may have recently spent many hours researching the same issue, much of the knowledge was not effectively captured, and it was necessary for me to duplicate the effort to understand the relevant law and apply it to the facts of my case. And the legal research process is time-consuming, as it is important to identify the relevant legal issues and find the controlling cases, statutes, and rules. Although some of the legal issues are common and relatively easy to identify, others are less common and less apparent. And the consequences of failing to identify the controlling legal issues and authorities can be devastating. The understandable fear of failing to identify a controlling legal issue or authority leads lawyers to spend hours searching for other relevant issues and authorities. Although this challenge of determining relevance is more acute for younger lawyers, it can also be a challenge for experienced lawyers who have not recently encountered the same legal issues. I soon realized that the labor and database subscription costs of legal research often prevent businesses and individuals from accessing important legal guidance—and write-offs of these costs impact a law firm’s bottom line. I enjoyed practicing law, but believed a resource like BookLawyer could help make legal knowledge more accessible for lawyers and more affordable for clients.
2. What specific problem does BookLawyer solve? How do you solve it?
NN: Businesses and individuals often avoid the perceived expense and difficulty of accessing quality legal advice because they do not believe it is affordable or cost-effective—leading to many legal issues that could have been prevented or minimized. And clients are increasingly unwilling to pay for legal research time and costs perceived as on-the-job training for younger lawyers. By merging expert legal research knowledge with Silicon Valley data science, BookLawyer will increase the speed and accuracy with which a lawyer can identify the relevant legal issues and authorities, and reduce database subscription costs.
3. What’s the future of law?
Prediction #1: An Increased Role for Technology. Data science and machine learning algorithms will assist lawyers by: (1) demonstrating relevance in legal research; (2) identifying legal risks and informing decision making (analytics); (3) analyzing and managing contracts and compliance; and (4) managing electronically stored information (ESI).
Prediction #2: An Increased Role for Corporate Legal Departments. These same technologies will help in-house lawyers take a more active role in providing legal services to their corporate clients, and practicing preventive law—resulting in greater professional status and career opportunities for in-house lawyers.
Prediction #3: An Increased Role for Law Schools. Law schools will provide more experiential education and technology training to compete for top students and to create greater demand for their graduates in the legal market.
4. What are the top 3 technology trends you’re seeing in the legal industry?
Trend #1: Use of Artificial Intelligence (including machine learning and deep learning).
Trend #2: Use of analytics.
Trend #3: Use of cloud computing.
5. Why is the legal industry ripe for disruption?
NN: I believe the legal industry is more ripe for evolution than for disruption. As technology continues to transform expectations for personal and commercial interactions in our daily lives, new and existing providers of legal services will use technology to provide superior legal services and create a competitive advantage.
About Neal Nagely
Neal Nagely, CEO of BookLawyer.
-Kansas State University—B.A. in Journalism & Public Speaking
-University of Kansas School of Law—J.D.
-Practiced commercial litigation & appeals with a law firm in Dallas, Texas
-Hobbies include travel and reading (history, law, biographies, and innovation)