The Birth of ALTA
“There needs to be a community,” I said, “an ecosystem for legal technologies in Australia. A group we can all tap into for this knowledge.”
I was enjoying lunch on Martin Place in Sydney with James Odell from Elevate, in January 2017, not long after the launch of Xakia. It was a sunny afternoon and we sat outside, indulging in a glass of wine while I tapped into James’ knowledge about building a legal technology business in Australia.
“What you want” James ventured, “is to specifically tap into the people who are doing.”
“Yes,” I agreed, “I need to speak to people doing the doing.”
“The people rolling up their sleeves,” he added, excited by our immediate, shared idea, “those who can execute, who are turning their vision into reality.”
“Those who know how hard it is to build technology that talks, let alone sings,” I said, eyes wide with my recent learnings.
“And how hard it is to sell to lawyers,” James quipped.
“Yes!” I laughed. “Tough clients who force you to make better products.”
We immediately started making a list of people we knew creating technology products for the legal industry. Australian born, owned or building a presence unique to the Australian market. Two days later, an email went out to ten people and a month later a small band of Australian legal technology start-ups sat in a Sydney bar on a Thursday night discussing their software products and finding common ground.
And so, the Australian Legal Technology Association was born.
In just one year, this group of legal technologists have grown to include 20 members. To date, the focus has been on collaboration, shared learning, cross referrals, corporate tax structures, raising funds, building a presence in offshore markets, tools for managing software development, marketing strategies and much more.
All start-ups are hard, and require a complex algorithm for success.
But a rising tide lifts all boats.
By leaping over hurdles quickly, by tapping into the shared knowledge of those around you to avoid mistakes, learn quickly and achieve your goals faster,riding the tide of success becomes easier.
I have personally found collaboration opportunities for Xakia with docyard, Neota Logic, PerSUIT, DocAssist, Legaler, Lexoo, Elevate and LawPath. As Xakia moves into offshore markets, these relationships and the information sharing have been critical to building Xakia’s business, software and sales. A year ago, over lunch with James Odell, I could never have predicted how critical this community would be to Xakia’s success.
What started as an informal group has now developed (thanks to the hard work of Stevie Ghiassi (Legaler) and Michael Pattison (Contract Probe)) into an incorporated association, with a mission to foster Australian legal technology start-ups, and a shared enthusiasm for the success of all within the group. We have met 5 times and our first formal function sponsored by Macquarie Bank in February.
Legal innovations in Australia have exploded, and with the likes of The Legal Forecast and the Centre for Legal Innovation pushing and prodding for more, we can only expect legal technology in Australia to continue to grow. I am aware of at least another 10 legal technologies in development who will join ALTA when they are ready to tap into the community of rich knowledge about building a legal technology business.
Australia punches above its weight on the world stage. As the 53rd most populous country, we have the 13th largest economy, we hold our own against the largest nations in the sporting arena and have produced 16 Noble Prize winners. We even invented wifi.
And it will be no different with legal technology.
ALTA has arrived, and I am excited to watch the impact of this group of legal technology innovators on the global stage in coming years.