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Oct 31, 2023

Are the Days of Sh&%ty Legal Tech Over?

The following is an excerpt from Nicole's presentation on October 5th. 

"If you've heard me talk in the past, you have probably heard me say unkind things about software in the legal space. We have had a history of really bad legal tech products.  

Thanks to business competition and more discerning customers, in the last three years there has been a seismic shift in the quality of products in legal tech. It is now a business imperative to have a thoughtfully designed product, and to accomplish this legal tech companies are moving from an engineer-led to a product-led model. I posit that legal tech companies will need to be product-led to survive. 

An engineering-led model is now considered the old paradigm; it’s led by the development team and work is focused on the technology, outputs, and speed. It’s responsive to sales, so if a customer needs a widget, you ask what color and when? 

A product-led model is much more focused on product vision, and to make a cohesive product that’s useful to the vast majority of customers. If a customer asks for a widget, a product led approach evaluates feasibility of that widget with development, researches to see if it's a widget the majority of customers want, and in some cases simply says 'no, you don't actually want that widget' when the request doesn't further the customer’s own goals." 

Ahead of this talk, T&P conducted an informal survey of SaaS companies in legal tech, and found the following: 

  1.  The vast majority of companies identify as product-led. 
  2.  Companies that launched in the 1990s all started as engineering-led, but have since either moved to product-led, or are looking to shift to that paradigm.
  3.  All companies that have launched since 2000 started as and remain product-led.

While noting positive movement in the industry, we caution against the pull away from product-led models in the face of emerging technologies that may cause us to focus more on the tech than the product and customer needs.


The moral of the story? "When engineering isn’t the main driver, we get better products."   -- NB