Derek Southall discusses that Legal Tech is no longer dictating its own future

The last three years has seen a huge surge in the uptake of technology used by law firms and in-house legal teams. More has happened during this period than in the 30 years before. The market has gone from famine to feast. In the past you sometimes struggled to find the right technology to deliver a solution. Nowadays you are spoilt for choice and in addition you have a mass of other technologies looking for problems. In some ways we are living in a golden era for technology.

So why does this mean the death of Legal Tech? Surely the opposite is true? Superficially this is of course correct, but we must dig deeper to understand what is truly going on.

In big picture terms Law is an $850 billion global market. For the last 30 years plus law firms have been leveraging technology. However virtually all this technology has been infrastructure technology i.e. it has been technology to manage financial information, documents and emails and time recording information. There is nothing wrong with this and to be totally clear these technologies have made a huge contribution to efficiency and productivity. But equally let’s be realistic there is no law in these technologies.

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Derek Southall

Derek Southall

Hyperscale Group
Derek Southall, founder and CEO is a high profile and very well connected figure in the legal technology, innovation, knowledge management and digital marketplaces. Derek has spent nearly 25 years in a range of leading strategic roles for a top 50 global law firm, for most of this time as a Partner and Head of Strategic Development and subsequently as Head of Digital and Innovation. During this period Derek oversaw and helped drive growth from £27 mil TO to in excess of £425 mil TO as well as driving and supporting numerous mergers and international expansion to 18 offices in 10 countries. Derek was ranked by the FT as one of the top three most innovative lawyers in the UK in its first study into the legal market. Derek also led the firm’s technology team to become ranked as the most innovative in Europe and subsequently the firm to ranked as the second most innovative firm in Europe as well as picking up a range of other awards. Derek has been the relationship partner for a long list of major household name clients in a range of sectors including Automotive, FMCG, Financial Services, Food and Drink, Fashion and Construction and has a strong track record in sales and product delivery. Derek has been ranked three times in the last three years as an Acritas Star for outstanding client delivery (based on independent feedback). Derek chairs and was one of the founders of the Legal IT Innovators Group ( which has 80 or so of the top 100 firms as members and which plays a key role in driving ahead technological thinking and change for the good of the legal profession. In this role he has worked alongside the United Nations and a range of other large organisations. recently joined forces with two other leading advisory businesses in the fields of technology, operations and financial management to create the which has been referred to as the “Holy Trilogy” of Legal IT. Its purpose is to pool experience and intellectual knowhow to ensure we have a more holistic approach to how they give advice. Derek also serves on the advisory boards of several start-ups and has recently been appointed to the advisory board of the Global Institute of Innovation, which brings together around 400 academics to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.