Connect with us

Digital economy

Europe poised to take advantage of #LegalTechBoom

Graham Paul

Published

on

If the unprecedented investment levels recorded in 2019 are any indication, legal tech is gearing up for large-scale disruption. Funding for the sector had already comfortably slid past the $1 billion threshold by the end of the third quarter of last year, overtaking the previous year’s total by some margin and notching up a number of success stories along the way.

Among others, Big Four accountancy firm EY picked up legal outsourcing business Pangea3 from Thomson Reuters, while legal tech ‘app store’ Reynen Court launched in beta mode and secured $3 million in extra funding just last week. Tech-driven litigation finance companies, including Legalist and Validity Finance, also received significant cash injections, with e-signature pioneer HelloSign being acquired by veteran file-hosting service Dropbox.

Silicon Valley is losing ground to Europe

Although Silicon Valley continues to lead the way in tech innovation overall, European companies are rapidly gaining ground—and are actually ahead in the legal tech industry. The rapid adoption of tech advancements in the legal sector has sparked a high level of uptake that’s currently outpacing American progress. UK-based contract collaboration startup Juro, for example, is continuing to attract VC investment for a platform that is designed to streamline the legal contract-building process. Incorporating features including e-signing and automatic contract tagging, Juro distils each contract into a simple, interactive and easily tracked project that trims time and resources to a minimum.

Like Juro, many of Europe’s legal tech innovations have arisen out of smaller firms’ pressing need to optimize working practices to protect dwindling margins on admin-heavy fixed-fee projects. It’s easy to see the draw: intuitive AI-based systems enable businesses to remain competitive and profitable, at the same time freeing staff for more strategic tasks. Innovation hasn’t been such a key factor in the US, where the billable hour is still normal practice.

National barriers are hampering progress

However, although Europe as a whole is an early adopter of legal tech, Germany is a surprising laggard – it’s no secret that the country’s major publishing houses, such as Verlag CH Beck, have taken their time to digitize. What’s more, German legislators have also been slow to publish judicial decisions. Current laws restrict the parameters of legal advice provision, a roadblock which has further thwarted progress for legal tech companies in Germany. Reformers would like to see lawyers’ effective quasi-monopoly on legal services ended, to enable clients to benefit from a more competitive market, although lawyers are – naturally – reluctant to relinquish their grip on this profitable sector.

Germany’s relatively slow adoption of legal tech also reflects wider reservations about AI in in the country, with some politicians cautioning against the silent imposition of a surveillance state by tech giants who harvest and monetize data from phones and other smart technology – a development that’s considered at odds with European values. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has expressed concern over Germany’s reluctance to adopt digital technologies, claiming that the country needs to reap ‘the opportunities of digitalisation’ in order to drive productivity growth and improve living standards. As one IT director at a major German law firm noted, “it’s no secret we’re behind the curve”.

As late as 2016, many law firms still did not have computers on their desks, instead relying on massive binders with thousands of pages that need to be viewed manually and recording their thoughts on tape recorders that dedicated staff has to type out. However, things are slowly changing, especially in smaller and medium-sized law firms, which have become more aware and excited about the advantages legal tech has to offer in automizing many processes. In a highly-anticipated judgment last month, the German Federal Court of Justice held that legal tech firm LexFox—which recently raised a seven-figure round of venture capital funding—did not violate the country’s Legal Services Act.

Driving innovation in the legal sector

The ruling has cheered innovators who are hoping that artificial intelligence and machine learning will revolutionise legal research in Germany as they have elsewhere in Europe. For example, French legal search engine Doctrine.fr, which harnesses technological innovation to display results as much as 180 times faster than rival LexisNexis, raised €10 million in a 2018 funding round—a whopping 40% of the total capital raised by France’s legal tech sector that year. Software like Doctrine’s has already seen widespread application in France, but could streamline the operations of German law practitioners – and law-makers alike – to a significant extent.

Across the Channel, Thomson Reuters recently announced its acquisition of London-based legal software provider HighQ to beef up its suite of cloud-based products. Meanwhile, US insights specialist Clarivate Analytics has snapped up Belgian-based IP data provider Darts-ip, so it can expand its analytics offering to the legal sector.

These developments show that legal tech is certain to fundamentally alter the way law will be practiced. Encouragingly, most of Europe is willingly adapting to the opportunities AI and machine learning are presenting the legal sector—and even notoriously conservative Germany is now entering the digital age.

Digital economy

Digital transformation: Importance, benefits and EU policy

EU Reporter Correspondent

Published

on

Learn how the EU is helping to shape a digital transformation in Europe to benefit people, companies and the environment. The digital transformation is one of the EU's priorities. The European Parliament is helping to shape the policies that will strengthen Europe's capacities in new digital technologies, open new opportunities for businesses and consumers, support the EU's green transition and help it to reach climate neutrality by 2050, support people's digital skills and training for workers, and help digitalize public services, while ensuring the respect of basic rights and values, Society .

MEPs are preparing to vote on a report on shaping the digital future of Europe, calling on the Europea Commission to further tackle challenges posed by the digital transition, especially to take advantage of the opportunities of the digital single market and to improve the use of artificial intelligence. What is digital transformation? 

  • Digital transformation is the integration of digital technologies by companies and the impact of the technologies on society.  
  • Digital platforms, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and artificial intelligence are among the technologies affecting ... 
  • ... sectors from transport to energy, agri-food, telecommunications, financial services, factory production and health care, and transforming people's lives. 
  • Technologies could help to optimise production, reduce emissions and waste, boost companies' competitive advantages and bring new services and products to consumers. 

Funding of the EU's digital priorities

Digital plays an essential role in all EU policies. The Covid crisis accentuated the need for a response that will benefit society and competitiveness in the long run. Digital solutions present important opportunities and are essential to ensuring Europe's recovery and competitive position in the global economy.

The EU's plan for economic recovery demands that member states allocate at least 20% of the €672.5 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility to digital transition. Investment programmes such as the research and innovation-centred Horizon Europe and infrastructure-centred Connecting Europe Facility allocate substantial amounts for digital advancements as well.

While the general EU policy is to endorse digital goals through all programmes, some investment programmes and new rules specifically aim to achieve them.

Digital Europe programme

In April 2021, Parliament adopted the Digital Europe programme, the EU’s first financial instrument focused specifically on bringing technology to businesses and people. It aims to invest in digital infrastructure so that strategic technologies can help boost Europe’s competitiveness and green transition, as well as ensure technological sovereignty. It will invest €7.6bn in five areas: supercomputing (€2.2bn), arfitifical intelligence (€2.1bn), cybersecurity (€1.6bn), advanced digital skills (€0.6bn), and ensuring a wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society (€1.1bn).

Online safety and platform economy

Online platforms are an important part of the economy and people's lives. They present significant opportunities as marketplaces and are important communication channels. However, there also pose significant challenges.

The EU is working on new digital services legislation, aiming to foster competitiveness, innovation and growth, while boosting online security, tackling illegal content, and ensuring the protection of free speech, press freedom and democracy.

Read more on why and how the EU wants to regulate the platform economy.

Among measures to ensure safety online, the Parliament adopted new rules to prevent the dissemination of terrorist content online in April 2021. MEPs are also considering rules on a new European cybersecurity centre.

Artificial intelligence and data strategy

Artificial intelligence (AI) could benefit people by imroving health care, making cars safer and  enabling tailored services. It can improve production processes and bring a competitive advantage to European businesses, including in sectors where EU companies already enjoy strong positions, such as the green and circular economy, machinery, farming and tourism.

To ensure Europe makes the most of AI's potential, MEPs have accentuated the need for human-centric AI legislation, aimed at establishing a framework that will be trustworthy, can implement ethical standards, support jobs, help build competitive “AI made in Europe” and influence global standards. The Commission presented its proposal for AI regulation on 21 April 2021.

Read more on how MEPs want to regulate artificial intelligence.

The success of AI development in Europe ilargely depends on a successful European data strategy. Parliament has stressed the potential of industrial and public data for EU companies and researchers and called for European data spaces, big data infrastructure and legislation that will contribute to trustworthiness.

More on what Parliament wants for the European data strategy.

Digital skills and education

The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important digital skills are for work and interactions, but has also accentuated the digital skills gap and the need to increase digital education. The Parliament wants the European skills agenda to ensure people and businesses can take full advantage of technological advancements.

42% of EU citizens lack basic digital skil

Fair taxation of the digital economy

Most tax rules were established well before the digital economy existed. To reduce tax avoidance and make taxes fairer, MEPs are calling for a global minimum tax rate and new taxation rights that would allow more taxes to be paid where value is created and not where tax rates are lowest.

Other interesting articles to check out

More on Europe's digital policies 

Continue Reading

Digital economy

Digital transformation: Importance, benefits and EU policy

EU Reporter Correspondent

Published

on

Learn how the EU is helping to shape a digital transformation in Europe to benefit people, companies and the environment.

The digital transformation is one of the EU's priorities. The European Parliament is helping to shape the policies that will strengthen Europe's capacities in new digital technologies, open new opportunities for businesses and consumers, support the EU's green transition and help it to reach climate neutrality by 2050, support people's digital skills and training for workers, and help digitalise public services, while ensuring the respect of basic rights and values.

MEPs are preparing to vote on a report on shaping the digital future of Europe, calling on the Europea Commission to further tackle challenges posed by the digital transition, especially to take advantage of the opportunities of the digital single market and to improve the use of artificial intelligence. What is digital transformation? 

  • Digital transformation is the integration of digital technologies by companies and the impact of the technologies on society.  
  • Digital platforms, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and artificial intelligence are among the technologies affecting ... 
  • ... sectors from transport to energy, agri-food, telecommunications, financial services, factory production and health care, and transforming people's lives. 
  • Technologies could help to optimise production, reduce emissions and waste, boost companies' competitive advantages and bring new services and products to consumers. 

Funding of the EU's digital priorities

Digital plays an essential role in all EU policies. The Covid crisis accentuated the need for a response that will benefit society and competitiveness in the long run. Digital solutions present important opportunities and are essential to ensuring Europe's recovery and competitive position in the global economy.

The EU's plan for economic recovery demands that member states allocate at least 20% of the €672.5 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility to digital transition. Investment programmes such as the research and innovation-centred Horizon Europe and infrastructure-centred Connecting Europe Facility allocate substantial amounts for digital advancements as well.

While the general EU policy is to endorse digital goals through all programmes, some investment programmes and new rules specifically aim to achieve them.

Digital Europe programme

MEPs are set to vote in April on the Digital Europe programme, the EU’s first financial instrument focused specifically on bringing technology to businesses and people. It aims to invest in digital infrastructure so that strategic technologies can help boost Europe’s competitiveness and green transition, as well as ensure technological sovereignty. It will invest €7.5 billion in five areas: supercomputing (€2.2 billion), artificial intelligence (€2 billion), cybersecurity (€1.6 billion), advanced digital skills (€577 million), and ensuring a wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society (€1 billion).

Online safety and platform economy

Online platforms are an important part of the economy and people's lives. They present significant opportunities as marketplaces and are important communication channels. However, there also pose significant challenges.

The EU is working on new digital services legislation, aiming to foster competitiveness, innovation and growth, while boosting online security, tackling illegal content, and ensuring the protection of free speech, press freedom and democracy.

Read more on why and how the EU wants to regulate the platform economy.

Among measures to ensure safety online, the Parliament is voting on new rules to prevent the dissemination of terrorist content online in April. MEPs are also considering rules on a new European cybersecurity centre.

Artificial intelligence and data strategy

Artificial intelligence (AI) could benefit people by imroving health care, making cars safer and  enabling tailored services. It can improve production processes and bring a competitive advantage to European businesses, including in sectors where EU companies already enjoy strong positions, such as the green and circular economy, machinery, farming and tourism.

To ensure Europe makes the most of AI's potential, MEPs have accentuated the need for human-centric AI legislation, aimed at establishing a framework that will be trustworthy, can implement ethical standards, support jobs, help build competitive “AI made in Europe” and influence global standards. The Commission presented its proposal for AI regulation on 21 April 2021.

Read more on how MEPs want to regulate artificial intelligence.

The success of AI development in Europe ilargely depends on a successful European data strategy. Parliament has stressed the potential of industrial and public data for EU companies and researchers and called for European data spaces, big data infrastructure and legislation that will contribute to trustworthiness.

More on what Parliament wants for the European data strategy.

Digital skills and education

The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important digital skills are for work and interactions, but has also accentuated the digital skills gap and the need to increase digital education. The Parliament wants the European skills agenda to ensure people and businesses can take full advantage of technological advancements.

42% of EU citizens lack basic digital skill

Other interesting articles to check out

More on Europe's digital policies 

Continue Reading

Computer technology

Vega: Launch of the first world-class supercomputer in the EU

EU Reporter Correspondent

Published

on

The European Commission, together with the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking and the government of Slovenia has inaugurated the operation of the Vega Supercomputer at a high-level ceremony in Maribor, Slovenia. This marks the launch of a first EU supercomputer procured jointly with EU and member state funds, with a joint investment of €17.2 million.

A Europe Fit for the Digital Age Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said:“We are celebrating today the launch of the Vega supercomputer – the first of several. Supercomputing will open new doors for European SMEs to compete in tomorrow's high tech economy. Even more importantly, by supporting artificial intelligence to identify the molecules for breakthrough drug treatments, by tracking infections for COVID and other diseases, European supercomputing can help save lives.”

Executive Vice President Vestager participated in the launch ceremony on 20 April together with the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Janez Janša. The new Vega supercomputer is capable of 6.9 Petaflops of computer power and will support the development of applications in many domains, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and high-performance data analytics. It will help European researchers and industry to make significant advances in bio-engineering, weather forecasting, the fight against climate change, personalised medicine, as well as in the discovery of new materials and drugs that will benefit EU citizens. The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking pools European and national resources to procure and deploy world-class supercomputers and technologies.

In addition to Vega in Slovenia, EuroHPC supercomputers have been acquired and are being installed in the following centres: Sofia Tech Park in Bulgaria, IT4Innovations National Supercomputing Center in Czechia, CINECA in Italy, LuxProvide in Luxembourg, Minho Advanced Computing Center in Portugal, and CSC – IT Center for Science in Finland. Moreover, a Commission proposal for a new Regulation for the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, presented in September 2020, aims to enable a further investment of €8 billion in the next generation of supercomputers, including emerging technologies such as quantum computers. More information will be available in this press release by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking.

Continue Reading

Twitter

Facebook

Trending