My first impression from #Lexpo17 was that the Netherland seems to be one of those countries seeing a lot of innovation despite not being a massive, english-speaking market. I reached out to legal service designer Jelle van Veenen, co-organizer of the dutch Legal Tech Startup Awards and the dutch Legal Tech Meetup group, to find out why that is.
- The lack of development of the legal market has given rise to a lot of opportunities for innovative products and services. I don’t think that this is unique to NL, but somehow, entrepreneurs here seem determined to come up with solutions. Perhaps the make-up of the dutch legal market helps? Many small law firms without strong niche focus, tech-savvy clients who are getting used to buying consumer-friendly services online, says van Veenen.
Are the ways legal matters are dealt with really changing, or is it mostly talk?
- I think all change starts with talking. I’ve been working on legal innovation for over ten years, and I really see a notable shift in the attention for legal innovation. Following that, there also is a (slightly less notable but still significant) shift the amount of actual innovative services that are being developed. Yes, there is more talk than action, but isn’t that always the case? It works for me, as long as there is actual action.
- Is access to justice a big issue here?
- Yes, cuts in funding have affected our legal aid system over the last couple of years, and lawyers have been protesting.
Are politicians, universities, the bar association etc contributing? Is legal tech a "thing" outside the typical small circle of startups and pioneering law firms etc?
- Applied universities (Hogescholen) are starting to develop specific programs on legal process management, legal tech, etc. And Dutch Legal Tech is organizing student meetups together with universities and applied universities.
We've covered the Dutch Legal Tech Startup Awards in the past. Is interest increasing?
- Yes. We are working on the next edition, but have not announced anything yet. Last year we already saw a growth in exposure - many (semi-)finalists where featured in a two-page spread in out main financial newspaper, for instance. They also reported to us that they gained additional exposure based on their participation in our award, and that their lead-times with potential clients were greatly reduced.
What about startups, any interesting ones to keep an eye one besides those that have been featured in previous installments?
- Yes: Tiq, Legalloyd, FastPortal, Legal Dutch, Indica, Vraag de Notaris and Lawyerlinq.