Headshots of the BBLT Showcase judges

Bristol and Bath LegalTech Showcase: The judges

The first-ever Bristol and Bath “Meet the LegalTechs” showcase is set to take place on Wednesday 5th May 2021 from 8:30 – 9:30 am.

Eight legaltech providers from the South West will showcase their innovative technologies in a 90-second elevator pitch. To add an extra dimension to the proceedings, winners in three categories (Define categories) will be crowned by a judging panel that brings together a wealth of expertise in innovation and legaltech.

Get your ticket to attend at Eventbrite.

The judging panel comprises representatives from locally-headquartered national firms TLT and VWV as well as the nationally renowned legaltech incubator, Barclays Eagle Lab. Find out more about them and their work below.

Meet The Judges

Antonia James

Director of Client Relations, VWV

Antonia is Director of Client Relations at award-winning law firm VWV where she provides strategic guidance and leadership in BD and marketing. She is also passionate about the creation of legal products and services that transform reach through the use of technology. This led to the launch of VWV Plus, for which she is the founding Director.

VWV

VWV Plus LogoAlready firmly established with the tech start-up and scale-up ecosystem in the South West, VWV is taking big strides in its development of digital solutions: not only is the firm launching new products and services via VWV Plus, it is collaborating with tech businesses and supporting industry research and growth.

Shara Gibbons

LawTech Manager, Barclays Eagle Lab

Shara Gibbons works within Barclays Eagle Labs LawTech Team and is focused on changing the way legal services are provided and accessed. Shara has experience in both strategy and startup business development. For the past 4 years, Shara has been supporting startup businesses scale, and since 2018 has been focused on LawTech and supporting the much-required change for the legal sector. Delivering several talks on the need and demand for change within Legal and is an advocate for technology-enabled evolution.

Barclays Eagle Lab

Barclays Eagle Labs logoBarclays Eagle Lab bridges the gap between emerging LawTech innovation and major law firms to help to transform the legal industry. Working with partners like the Law Society and Legal Geek, Barclays Eagle Lab brings the legal industry closer to tech entrepreneurs so that they can collaborate and find solutions that will drive efficiencies and progression for the whole industry.

Siân Ashton

Client Service Transformation Partner, TLT LLP

Siân’s focus is on client service and transforming the way TLT delivers its services. Siân has a particular interest in innovation and LegalTech and is part of TLT’s FutureLaw team, leading the firm in the way TLT delivers legal services and products to ensure that clients receive the most efficient and cost-effective solutions.

TLT

TLT Changing the future of lawTLT FutureLaw is an aligned, integrated and indispensable approach to meeting the changing needs of our clients. Delivering new products and services built on insight, process and technology to achieve better outcomes for clients, partnering with best in class legaltech providers to solve clients’ needs such as TLT LegalSifter and Clarilis.

About the LegalTech Showcase

We hope that the event will increase visibility, create a collaborative space and facilitate a sense of community, whilst simultaneously giving the South West legaltech organisations a chance to pitch their business to potential customers or partners. The event is open to anyone who would like to join to watch and we encourage you to share the event on your socials and with anyone with an interest in the South West legal sector. Best of luck to all the startups who will be pitching their businesses. We look forward to seeing you at the event.

Tickets are available now on Eventbrite.

For more information, on the format of the event please follow this link or please contact Tom Bartley, Barbal CEO.

Meet the LegalTechs: A showcase of Bristol and Bath LegalTech providers

Barbal is delighted to announce the first ever Bristol and Bath “Meet the LegalTechs” showcase.

Following the successful launch of the Bristol and Bath Legal Tech Report (BBLTR) in March, we thought that this is the perfect time to bring the LegalTech community in the South West even closer together.

The report identified that the West of England is undergoing an emerging movement of legal innovation. Key findings include:

  • The growing cluster of LegalTech companies in the region is significant in size compared to other regional locations.
  • The region’s LegalTech sector could create powerful differentiation on a national and international level if collaboration in the legal sector was fully joined up with and modelled on the tech sector’s well-established regional collaborative ecosystem.
  • A strong sense of societal purpose is evident within the legal sector in the region and this should drive a future strand of LegalTech development.

Core to the report is the huge opportunity for the South West LegalTech sector ecosystem to grow into a centre with international impact.

Bristol and Bath LegalTech Ecosystem Infographic

The showcase will build on this momentum by uniting and giving exposure to Bristol and Bath’s Legaltech companies. The audience will include members of large law firms, regional law firms, alternative legal service providers and in-house counsel from across the region.

“With the LegalTech space moving so quickly, it’s difficult for buyers to keep pace and understand what’s going on in the market. The 15 providers identified in the BBLT report aren’t competing in terms of their tech, but they are competing for the eyes and ears of potential customers. This is a great opportunity for legal service providers to meet us in one hit and create more collaboration within the Bristol and Bath legal innovation ecosystem.” Tom Bartley, CEO, Barbal

The format

The showcase will take place from 8:30 – 9:30am on Wednesday 5th May 2021 and is supported BBLT.

Ten LegalTech providers from the South West will have the opportunity to pitch and showcase their innovative technologies in a 90-second elevator pitch. To add an extra dimension to the proceedings, winners in three categories will be crowned by representatives from locally-headquartered national firms VWV and TLT.

Pitching companies include Barbal, Iken, Klyant, OpenTenancy, Panache Software, PracticeEvolve, Sensecheck and Shout4.

We hope that the event will increase visibility, create a collaborative space and facilitate a sense of community, whilst simultaneously giving the providers the chance to pitch their business to potential customers or partners. And the competition element is just a bit of fun to raise the stakes. The prize? Bragging rights.

The showcase is a must-attend event for anyone interested in the development of the legaltech ecosystem in the South West.

The event, which will be hosted on Zoom, will provide a virtual stage for the 90-second live-streamed pitches by each company. The competition will be judged by representatives of TLT, VWV and another TBA. The event has been created for the South West legal sector but is free to anyone who would like to join to watch the elevator pitches with speed networking at the end.

Tickets are available now on Eventbrite.

For more information, please contact Tom Bartley, Barbal CEO or Karl Loudon, Barbal Head of Legaltech.

Barbal named in ground-breaking LegalTech Report

Barbal has been named as one of fifteen LegalTech companies making a splash in the Bristol and Bath region in a new report by Whitecap Consulting. 

Bristol and Bath LegalTech Ecosystem Infographic

The report makes five findings for LegalTech in the region which identifies the West of England as an emerging cluster of legal innovation. The report identifies a significant level of LegalTech activity across an established legal sector, including more than 750 tech and innovation roles within a growing cluster of over 30 LegalTechs, tech companies working in the legal sector, and LegalTech arms operating within the region’s law firms.

The five findings are: 

  1.  High levels of LegalTech activity and service innovation across law firms of all sizes reflect the region’s underlying strengths in technology and law – including the presence of 17 Top 200 firm head office functions. 
  2. Bristol and Bath has built an extensive LegalTech talent pool, with more than 750 legal technology and innovation roles identified by our research.
  3. The growing cluster of LegalTech companies in the region is significant in size compared to other regional locations (as is the case in FinTech).
  4. The region’s LegalTech sector could create powerful differentiation on a national and international level if embryonic collaboration in the legal sector was fully joined up with and modelled on the tech sector’s well-established regional collaborative ecosystem.
  5. A strong sense of societal purpose is evident within the legal sector in the region and this should drive a future strand of LegalTech development.

Bristol & Bath is an established legal centre where the sector has a significant and long-standing presence. 26 of the top 100 firms in the UK have an office in the region, 13 of which have a head office here, making it stand out against other regions outside London.  The primary application of technology within the legal sector to date has been law firms using tech to serve their clients. 

There is an opportunity for tech firms to design highly efficient self service functions used directly by the buyers of legal services, which could make access to legal solutions cheaper, faster and more accessible. The combination of a strong legal sector and the core strength in technology overlaid by the presence of an unusually high number of head office functions for a regional city explain the high number of LegalTech roles in the region. “

Richard Coates, Managing Director, Whitecap Consulting 

Bristol Law Society was essentially founded by a group of lawyers wanting to share the cost of legal text books. That spirit of collaboration continues to thrive to this day and is absolutely central to the Bristol + Bath LegalTech project. Change in technology and innovation is inevitable and we will only be stronger in working together to ensure Bristol & Bath’s place at the forefront of the legal tech market. The opportunities are extensive. Not only will lawyers be able to develop new profitable approaches, we can also assist with access to justice.

Legal tech is a key plank for the legal future and this report is a key stone for taking us to the next step. We now need to move to that next phase and to make innovation and legal tech a long term success story for the region.

Ben Holt, President of Bristol Law Society & Partner, VWV

Bristol has provided a fantastic place to incubate Barbal through our early stages. The region has an excellent startup ecosystem with globally recognised accelerators, great access to funding and a growing talent pool. It’s a better place to live and work that continues to attract people away from London, whilst in easy reach of all other major UK cities. With so many top flight law firms with HQ functions on our doorstep, we’ve had fantastic access to feedback and validation on our product and value proposition. This report will galvanise the sector, encourage even more collaboration and support the “Silicon Gorge” region to grow into a cluster with international impact.

Tom Bartley, co-founder and CEO, Barbal

To find out more about Barbal and explore how concurrent document collaboration and Knowledge as a Service can help your firm to access new revenue streams and grow profits, book a meeting with Tom.

How lawyers can save time and money with Barbal

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, The Law Society indicates that law firms are forecasting a 10 – 20% drop in revenue for the 2020/2021 financial year. The commercial practice area has been hit hardest by the pandemic only behind the property sector, with Chambers Student reporting that the start of 2020 saw the slowest rate of deal-making in seven years. These forecasted falls in revenue heighten the need for commercial practitioners to track down and eliminate the processes where they are leaking time and money.

So how can we make sure that solicitors keep their unbillable hours as low as possible to boost your firm’s bottom-line?

A pile of coins with a clock in the background

A survey by Clio outlines that administrative tasks can take up to 48% of a commercial solicitor’s time, time spent manually keeping track of contract changes and issues that still need to be addressed, escalating into version control chaos. Our own research found that 20% of a commercial lawyer’s time is lost to activities that could be spent on billable work. A whopping 65% of legal professionals identify time lost on administrative tasks as their biggest pain point. As well as the usual office administration, this also includes keeping track of comments, revisions of contracts, and chasing clients for clarity when flagging issues. The pertinent issue many commercial law firms are facing is their solicitors are simply not practising enough law.

Today, we take a look at how Barbal addresses these pain points to help you save time and money.

Document collaboration without the chaos 

To address needless time-consuming tasks that are losing law firms revenue, Barbal is a cloud-based software solution providing collaborative document drafting without the chaos. Barbal’s platform provides a single knowledge hub for drafting, commenting, and revision tracking which can help contract negotiations come to a swift conclusion. This eliminates disparate versions of negotiations flying around between Microsoft Word and email. Barbal keeps all contributions and comments in one place to avoid duplicating documents, moving between systems, manually transferring and losing the connection between elements. Providing a tracked catalogue of drafts streamlines the contract lifecycle, speeds up litigation and erases the need for administrative tasks. Allowing solicitors to focus on new enquiries and billable work.

Full audit trail for contract negotiation

Barbal provides a full audit trail, version control, and records, saving time for future discovery or litigation. Once your partners receive a contract, they can easily redline, add comments, or approve changes. Through alerts, you can track any action and get notified once your recipient opens a document, rather than having to consistently chase parties down. Instantly share how comments have been addressed and allow them to compare changes between versions, so nothing slips through the gaps.

These features also eliminate the tug of war between parties chasing each other to review comments and drafts, resulting in a faster negotiation process. Reducing the security or contractual risks by keeping a full audit trail of contributions and changes by all parties in one place means there is no need for any exterior tools to support the process. Barbal’s software results in a streamlined process, creating firm-wide consistency during contract negotiation. 

Concurrent negotiation 

Barbal provides a simple way to compartmentalise negotiations into different sections for review. This streamlines co-authored documents allowing negotiations to progress fluidly, as opposed to a constant battle between parties chasing actions. Involved parties can manage, share and compare document versions simply and control permissions on each version, whilst maintaining a single source of truth.  You save more time by helping people focus quickly on what they need to do, boosting solicitors’ productivity and prioritising billable tasks. 

Solicitors that use word processors such as Microsoft Word broadly use the same process, copy and paste, make alterations then email, to produce an updated contract. There is a high risk of human error using this process. This process creates unnecessary long negotiation cycles, poor visibility, and inferior process control and compliance. Which in turn wastes both time and money. Barbal provides the reliability, security, and transparency that other document collaboration platforms simply can not maintain. With Barbal, solicitors can manage the negotiation with ease to get the best terms for all parties, without unnecessary waste or delay. 

To sum up, Barbal provides a secure platform for contract collaboration and negotiation, whilst bridging the gap between current collaborative processes such as Microsoft Word and email. Barbal ditches the administrative tasks that take up so much of their time, paving the way for solicitors to do more law.

If you would like to learn more about how Barbal can save you time and money, watch our product video here or contact us for a demo.

What’s happening in LegalTech to improve client engagement

If you’re looking to find out what’s happening in LegalTech to improve client engagement, we’ve gathered our 2020 views to share with you. And in our next article, we’ll look at what we can expect in 2021. First, it’s important to point out why LegalTech has developed at the pace it has up until 2020. The adoption of legal technology is now accelerating, but historically has been slow. Law is an ancient practice, with processes and traditions that have evolved over several hundred years in the UK. It’s natural to expect lawyers to seek progress, whilst also holding back from testing every new thing, to ensure they protect relationships and reputations with clients. However, client engagement is THE reason to do more innovation: LegalTech helps partners, solicitors and barristers improve how they work with clients. It speeds up their processes and makes negotiations run more smoothly. With the ‘Magic Circle’ of five top law firms based here in the UK, and plenty of investment available for new technologies, it’s no surprise London is seen as a hub for new law technology developments. So, why has LegalTech been such a hot topic?

Use-cases: why LegalTech is in demand

Like in most knowledge- or service-based industries, legal professionals face a number of challenges in their working practices where technology can help. We see three immediate issues:

Contract drafting takes time because complex data is required to underpin the contract, yet many of the terms and paragraphs have been developed already. Much of this work feels like administration yet requires a level of legal knowledge. Automating the administration, digitally dictating changes and using intelligent search enables a firm to ‘learn’ together and focus on the finer negotiations to reach consensus and close the deal.

New law firm recruits have to be highly skilled, but they still have to gain more experience through ‘grunt work’ to hit the deadlines, which can affect their enthusiasm for the job. Working for an innovative firm who is adopting LegalTech means less manual processing work and fewer all-nighters.

Client relationships are key, but the internal processes of legal advisers remain opaque – causing some clients to question why fees are so high. Technology enables better client engagement, greater transparency and faster processes, meaning firms can retain good relationships at a satisfactory profit level.

Where LegalTech is making a difference

Different technologies make up LegalTech, all of which are capable of transforming legal practice. This comes with a challenge for the technology decision makers, because a lot of LegalTech startups are small innovators, looking to break into the sector by improving one part of the process and they’re not yet working globally. That’s why some legal firms have set up their own incubators, to be first in the race to improve client engagement overall. The technologies which have made a difference so far are:

Automation and workflow

Legal firms are using contract lifecycle management and case management systems for internal collaboration, record keeping and practice management. This helps automate their work and prepare documents using forms, standard templates or common precedents. Automation in the contract lifecycle helps gain control over productivity whilst counteracting human error.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

AI has the potential to read, withdraw and categorise the information from huge numbers of contract documents, in turn, helping legal firms manage data more effectively. LegalTech, Kira Systems has established that companies lose an average of 5-12% of contract value due to lapses in the administration of contract obligations. Their study showed that firms adopting their AI tool can complete tasks 40% faster when users adopt it for the first time and up to 90% faster for more experienced users.

Data visualisation

Case history is significant to investigations, disputes and complex negotiations, however, lawyers need time and support to find the relevant information. Data visualisation helps the legal counsel gather and analyse all the facts from multiple sources and data sets. Firms like Tableau and Qlik are leading the market with their capabilities, although Microsoft offers Power BI in the same space.

Voice recognition software

Lawyers have relied on digital dictation for many years, however, with the advent of voice recognition software, they’ve benefited from much cheaper and faster transcription services. The technology is still developing, because some legal terms are misunderstood and have to be corrected by a paralegal or secretary – adding to the administrative processes.

Online collaboration and secure video-conferencing

With cloud-based infrastructure services, legal firms have begun to rely on online collaboration – either through their case management software or tools such as document sharing portals and extranets for collaborating with clients and the other side. However, many firms still rely on creating word documents before uploading them into a contract lifecycle management system or case management software. Barbal offers an alternative – a fully cloud-based platform for drafting and reviewing technical documentation, with built-in version control. (See more about our product here).

The world of LegalTech is changing rapidly to meet the demands of the industry. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, lawyers have had to significantly adapt to working remotely, including holding trials online – leading to an increase in demand for secure video conferencing in every office.

In our next article, we take a look at the gaps in the LegalTech market and what to expect in 2021.

Theo Tay-Lodge is Barbal’s Marketing Assistant.