Review Legal Tech Manuals

Rezension Legal Tech Bücher

Competition improves business, they say: Two books on legal tech.

Two books have been published by C. H. Beck-Verlag: The “Legal Tech Handbook” by Stefan Breidenbach/Florian Glatz and the book simply called “Legal Tech” by Harting/Bues/Halbleib.

To publish two books on the same topic is at least courageous for a publishing house that has made the experience that, contrary to presumptions, sales figures in the field of law firm management are in the three rather than four digits. Although the topic “Legal Tech” has been advertised with a large number of events since 2015, it is still surprising.

The approach of the book by Hartung/Blues/Halbleib is to give an overview of the market from different perspectives. For this purpose, 256 pages of the book have been used, the rest (36 pages, with some exceptions also among the first 256 pages) describe technologies. In addition to solution providers, journalists, professors, innovators, C-Levels, lawyers in various law firms of different sizes also have their say, who have made their own experiences with it, be it as their main occupation, as a second mainstay or to secure their business, in one case even as a survival tactic. Examples of applications from large law firms and legal departments occur and it becomes clear that the technical solutions in the field of law primarily perform supporting tasks for the lawyers, especially in order to process a lot of information faster and to make it accessible for evaluation by lawyers.

The authors around Stefan Breidenbach took a different approach. He himself is a legal techie of the first hour with his company Knowledge Tools. But even this company is still a long way from a startup called “Unicorn” with a billion USD valuation; we Germans love to invent, we usually don’t care about market opportunities and the realization of potential.  With a legal market of just €20 billion compared to the USA with USD 300 billion, it is of course also more difficult to be so successful.

The Breidenbach/Glatz approach is characterized by a scientific structure and penetration of the subject matter. After only about 45 pages, which were taken for the market overview, the other 228 pages describe the underlying technologies so well that even the layman can understand them (it is helpful, however, if he is a lawyer). The remaining 17 pages will then be devoted to the outlook.

Based on secured definitions, the market is described and the underlying technologies and their further development, including the problems of reproducing legal texts, are reflected. What only appears on p. 287 in Harting/Bues/Halbleib is already relevant on p.59 in Breidenbach/Glatz: the basic block-chain technology, which is described and appreciated as a game-changer. The authors at Breidenbach/Glatz deal specifically with the present and future of all possible technologies used and help the uninitiated to understand them. The value of the book lies both in its clarity of thought and its linguistic accuracy. Only rarely is the term legal tech used as a collective term, for example. Instead, the individual technologies are presented and examined with regard to their inherent logic for their possibilities and limitations. This enables a profound understanding including the acquisition of the relevant vocabulary. However, as a non-specialist you are quickly overstrained.

The book will be a “longseller” as the definitions will still be relevant in 5 years time. On the other hand, Harting/Bues/Halbleib is probably more of a short-seller, riding the wave of legal tech hype. The latter pleases the publisher, the former the reader, who in both cases had to spend 99 EURO.

The books both have about 38 and 25 authors respectively, on 308 and 280 pages respectively. Whereas the authors at Harting/Bues/Halbleib are 28 lawyers (at least according to the title), 4 of them from legal departments, Breidenbach has 6 professors and only 9 lawyers and 8 entrepreneurs in this market. The authors at Harting/Bues/Halbleib are dominated by market observers, journalists, practising lawyers and product suppliers. This alone shows the focus of the two plants. Readers of Harting/Bues/Halbleib get an overview of the market and market insight. Everything is interesting and one is prepared for the next small talk. It is also perfectly adequate for preparing a presentation to partners of a law firm who have no prior knowledge of the topic. Breidenbach/Glatz is to a certain extent based on Harting/Bues/Halbleib: the market overview is very brief, but all the more information about the technology, how it works and how its application in the legal field is proceeding or is likely to be used.

So the not yet initiated person is advised to buy both books, first “Legal Tech”, then read the “Legal Tech Handbook”. Then he (or she) will be fully informed and can decide whether to remain a lawyer (and work on the core competence of legal evaluation and his or her ability to advise) or to take advantage of the possibilities of digitalisation (more than before) or even mutate into a software entrepreneur; depending on the radicalness of the future prognoses, all three options are available or only the latter.

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