By Yixuan Xie
Technology startups plan to stir up legal practices with their latest advances. Fifteen of these companies participated in the Startup Alley at the annual American Bar Association (ABA) TECHSHOW in Chicago through this past weekend. The innovators demonstrated the integration in law office operations of their new tools for artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and data privacy.
Launched in June 2017, dealWIP, based in New York, helps cut the time spent on processes involved in mergers and acquisitions where buyers and sellers field many questions to make sure that they know and understand the risks associated with the transaction.
Currently managed with buyers or sellers putting their rows of questions in Excel spreadsheets and sending those out, both sides go back and forth for many rounds, “a very chaotic process,” said Tunji Williams, co-founder and CEO of dealWIP.
DealWIP’s fundamental innovation created a centralized and secure cloud-based space where the parties can engage in the same process real time and structured the exchange so that the parties can internally collaborate on and keep track of all questions and answers.
Machine learning is used to figure out who is the right person to receive the questions.
“If I’m selling my company and I receive a question from the potential buyer, I’m going to have somebody in my company who is best positioned to answer that question,” Williams said. “So we’re using machine learning technology that helps you figure out whom that question should go to. In the past, this question was sent to an accountant. You should probably send this question to the accountant again without having to think about it yourself.”
Teruel Carrasco, an attendee at ABA TECHSHOW, said dealWIP is one of the standouts in the Startup Alley and AI is going to be disruptive to the legal industry as a whole.
“It’s lawyers and firms who understand AI and how AI can help them that achieve better results for their clients,” Carrasco said. “However, a smart attorney will look at this as an opportunity to really be strategic about how they develop their relationships with clients. While AI accelerates the decision-making process, it will also take a lot of those administrative tasks away from lawyers.”
With increased risks of data tampering and mistrust in the digital world, Kinnami Software Corp., of Boston, offers a service for authenticating electronic files. It creates a digital fingerprint of a document and uses the Ethereum blockchain to store that information and make it irrefutable.
Here is the process illustrated on the website:
“So it’s really useful when you want to do two things. One, if you want to establish that something is authentic, which has not been tampered with or changed once it has been created,” said Sujeesh Krishnan, Kinnami CEO. “The second thing it does is that from an intellectual property copyrights perspective, it establishes that you are the owner of that asset.”
With more demands for instant responses from clients, JurisBytes, a text messaging platform startup based in Atlanta, allows attorneys to contact their clients without disclosing their personal phone number to better define and manage client relationships.
“We don’t want to have that much access. Lawyers need the peace of mind,” said Ryan Mullis, founder and CEO of JurisBytes, who is also an attorney.
Lawyers can see all their clients on an app and when they enter clients’ phone numbers, clients can receive or reply messages just like normal text messaging without downloading anything.
Besides protecting attorneys’ privacy, the platform also sends a daily usage report of the number of messages sent and received every day so that attorneys can better calculate billable hours. Losing track of how much time an attorney actually spent on a case is one of the biggest problems about using cell phones for work, Mullis said.
Launching the platform last week, JurisBytes won the 2019 Startup Alley competition on the opening night of ABA TECHSHOW.