The overlap between software companies and law firms may be spreading, but not without casualties. The latest may be the many lawyers that had until this week worked for the well-funded legal start-up Atrium.
On January 13, the company
Atrium had hoped to be
Atrium was not the first company to explore this idea, with similar start-ups exploring this model in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the United Arab Emirates. However, Atrium had some advantages: It had amassed $75 million in venture funding since it was founded in 2017 and had start-up star Kan, founder of Twitch, at the helm.
Gabriel Shapiro, one of the attorneys left go by Atrium who
Bob Ambrogi, the esteemed legaltech blogger who broke the news,
We’re seeing a trend towards more law firms launching their own software development businesses, investing in legal tech startups and establishing technology incubators.
Aron Solomon, a Berlin-based startup founder and designer,
Despite such criticism, the trend of software companies offering legal services and law firms creating software companies shows no sign of stopping. “We’re seeing a trend towards more law firms launching their own software development businesses, investing in legal tech start-ups and establishing technology incubators,” says Mike Abbott, vice president of enterprise thought leadership and content strategy at Thomson Reuters. “These firms understand they can not only benefit from, but can help lead, this technology-based disruption of legal services as a means to improve efficiency and expand their business by creating new products and services for clients.”
Most recently, Thomson Reuters and Georgetown Law Center’s
Further, regulations on law firm ownership — long averse to such co-mingling of lawyer and non-lawyer partnerships in offering legal services — have begun to reflect this change as
While the Atrium announcement earned criticism, other industry leaders weren’t as negative. Jeroen Plink, CEO of Clifford Chance Applied Solutions (the law firm’s tech subsidiary),
Hannah Konitshek, Business Operations and Strategy at Legal.io,
Atrium should offer a cautionary tale for lawyers, innovators, and entrepreneurs; but it should not deter enterprising minds from trying to improve the practice of law with technology solutions. That trend is already here, law firm disruption is ripe, and other start-ups will likely take Atrium’s place.
Innovation is definitely messy, however, and Atrium is a reminder of just how messy legal tech innovation can still be.