Why NYC is the Right Place for (Legal) Tech Innovation

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By Leyda Hernandez

NYC

The Tech Community & Legal Services in NYC

New York City often plays second fiddle to the Bay Area when it comes to resources and opportunities for startup innovation. But NYC is exactly the right place to incubate, implement, and scale innovation in the legal industry. Due to the infrastructure for tech acceleration and the volume of legal services in NYC, there's a huge amount of opportunity here.

The Legal Services Community in NYC is HUGE

Law Schools - Plenty of Them, and Top Notch Ones Too!

The industry of legal services in NYC has more volume and variety than anywhere else. The concentration of law firms in NYC make it the largest hub for the legal industry in the United States, followed only by California on the West Coast. If there is room for change in the legal community, why shouldn't it happen where there is such a vested interest in the future of law being bright?

New York City is home to not just eight law schools, but top law schools, like Fordham University School of Law (#27), New York University School of Law (#7), and Columbia Law School (#4).

Notable NYC Law School Alum

Some notable alumni coming out of these top NYC law schools include:

  • Former NYC mayors
    • Fiorello La Guardia (NYU Law Alum)
    • Ed Koch (NYU Law Alum)
    • Rudy Giuliani (NYU Law Alum)
  • Former Presidents
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt (Columbia Law Alum)
    • Theodore Roosevelt (Columbia Law Alum)
  • U.S. House of Representatives - Geraldine Ferraro (Fordham University School of Law Alum)
  • Journalist and Activist - Glen Greenwald (NYU Law Alum)
  • U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice - Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Columbia Law Alum)
  • U.S. Attorney General - Eric Holder (Columbia Law Alum)

Lawyers love NY

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New York state is home to 166,317 barred & active lawyers as of 2013, which is more than any other state in the union. In addition to the number of lawyers, there are legal professionals who support the judicial and legal industry.

It is, therefore, no surprise that the top and best law firms in the country are also headquartered in New York. The 2014 Vault Law 100 Rankings lists 13 out of its top 20 firms as headquartered in New York; the top five alone are all longstanding NYC institutions. Small law firms  also abound in New York, account ingfor 41% or more of big-ticket litigation. Legal services in NYC are varied by nature, but collectively, the City contains the largest gross number of lawyers, the biggest firms, and has a high percentage of small-firm lawyers as well. Because of the large and varied concentration of firms - big and small - in NYC, changes in the legal industry are likely have the greatest impact here.

NYC Tech Funding

In 2013 alone, VCs invested $1.3 billion in 222 high-tech companies in New York City, making it the third highest investment region after Silicon Valley and New England, with capital investment growing at the same rate as that in Silicon Valley and at more than twice of that of the New England area. EpicLaunch recently wrote an article about how and why the city your startup is in matters, and among the reasons proximity to seed and funding opportunities stood out, with New York City (commonly referred to as 'Silicon Alley') listed as a top pick. Highlighted was New York's thriving new legal tech industry; as home to large numbers of successful and growing law firms and lawyers, New York is a natural location to find funders of legal tech.

The Legal Tech Industry

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The consumer legal tech market is divided  into two categories: the DIY route and the more traditional hiring of a lawyer. With the first online legal tech players penetrating the market in the early 2000s, RocketLawyer and LegalZoom brought online legal documents to the hands of everyday consumers, providing anything from prenuptial agreements to business incorporation contracts. While there is definitely a need for this type of service, the templated nature of these documents may raise issues because of the lack of review by an attorney.

This has lent to other tech startups entering the space to fill in gaps in the legal world, for instance, continuing to improve the DIY legal drafting experience, facilitating client and attorney introductions, managing legal counsel, as well as tackling cumbersome business processes that have been long tied to the legal industry.

New York City, a Hub for Legal Tech Innovation

The number, variety and quality of lawyers, tech companies, and legal services in NYC, it makes the City a natural place for innovation and funding in legal tech. New York is already home to numerous legal tech startups, such as: Priori Legal, PlainLegal, Shake Law, Allegory Law, Hire an Esquire, Diligence Engine, Ebrevia (to name just a few).  We look forward to welcoming more companies to our thriving community.


Get access to high-quality legal services in NYC and find a lawyer at www.priorilegal.com

 

Photo Credit:

Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc

John Wardell (Netinho) via Compfight cc

Andrew Morrell Photography via Compfight cc 

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