This year has been both challenging and immensely fruitful for Closd, and we can’t wait to tackle 2021.
We asked some of our team members to share their thoughts, from different perspectives, on what 2021 will bring for Closd and the legal tech landscape. Their answers are below – whether you’re a lawyer or legal innovation officer, a startup founder, or you work in sales, marketing, design, or software development in legal tech, read on for Closd’s predictions for what’s to come in 2021.
Grégoire Debit (CEO): on the effects of COVID for legal tech and emerging from the crisis
We all hope 2021 will bring our social lives back (and good health for everybody, of course). However, from a tech and work perspective in the legal sector, we all know things have changed permanently, and for the best. This crisis accelerated a digital shift that was inevitable but took a long time to become apparent. Legal practitioners got accustomed to working remotely and to using game-changing technologies that were created by their peers, and that had reached maturity at the right moment. They realized they could easily save time, get a great return on investment, and that their clients actually enjoyed it!
So, what’s next for 2021? The use of technology will continue to increase, and lawyers will keep getting more and more comfortable with it. Legal tech champions will keep growing, improving their services and will become standards in the market that are trusted by all. This year may also be active in legal tech from a venture and M&A perspective. Traditional legal services actors have started looking at legal tech gems to complete their portfolios and offer more innovative products to their clients. If 2020 was the breakthrough year for legal tech, 2021 will be the confirmation of that.
Bruno Thomas (CTO): on cloud computing in legal tech
2020 was a wake-up call for those industries that were late to digitalize, and it’s quite obvious that law was one of them. Hundreds of law firms were suddenly forced to rely more than ever on videoconference, digital signature and collaborative solutions, most of which were cloud-based. The key takeaway? Cloud is not as evil as what most CIOs thought! “Cloud computing” might have been only a buzzword 15 years ago, but it is now a reliable standard with a proven track-record across industries. We expect 2021 to see this change fully embraced as legal tech plays an exponential role in the competitiveness and efficiency of law firms.
Will it be the end of the big “cloud” debate though? Certainly not, there is still so much fun to be had. Lawyers should enjoy this new chapter however, as it will speak to them much more than technical details on cybersecurity. See which one I’m talking about? If not, look up “Cloud Act”, “GDPR” and “Schrems II”, and enjoy the ride!
Nathaniel Merino (Managing Director): on product trends and evolution
In 2021, Closd will capitalise on the feedback received from clients thanks to the thousands of transactions that were executed on the platform in 2020. Our main focus will be on the following:
- Interface. We’re introducing a brand-new front-end version of Closd that will bring our users an even more user-friendly interface and a smoother and faster browsing experience.
- Data room. By the end of 2021, Closd’s data room will be up to par with the most advanced electronic data rooms: automatic numbering, detailed access logs, watermarks and a brand-new integrated Q&A system are among the next features due to be released.
- Project Management. Our checklists will improve, with the introduction of chat functionalities and a whole new UX design.
- Electronic signatures. Closings will be easier than ever with major improvements (including eIDAS level 1 and level 3 signatures and PDF signatures, on top of the level 2 eIDAS electronic signatures currently offered).
And that’s only a sneak peek of what’s to come! We are lucky to benefit from the expertise of all our clients, who guide us in building our roadmap. Our goal will remain the same: to deliver the most user-friendly and straightforward software possible, one that saves time right away and transforms the experience of carrying out legal projects.
Sarah Acharhabi (Sales and Business Development): on sales and growing demand for digital solutions
Now that there is a light at the end of the COVID tunnel, a surge in M&A as a result of pent-up demand is widely expected. Pressure on law firms to perform a large amount of transactions in a short period of time is therefore likely. Automating this process as much as possible will become even more important in 2021.
I think the selling process to law firms has changed recently. Initially, the process would be to get in contact with (generally senior) partners within the firm, and they would be the ones making some of the key decisions about procuring new technology. Now, increasingly, there are more dedicated innovation teams, or a person who is appointed within the company to actually make an assessment of the best product to bring in for the firm. That certainly has evolved, and we’re seeing that a lot of the discussions now are much more tailored towards those teams. I think it’s largely a positive thing. It’s helping to ensure that technology is not being brought in in a haphazard way. And that when it’s being brought in there’s a focus from both the vendors and the law firms to actually ensure that it’s not software that is just procured and then sits on the shelf, but that it’s actually being practically used and adopted.
Diane Ma (UX/UI): on user experience and design
2021 will be the year that the platform gets a brand new look. One thing we always strive to provide users with is an easy-to-understand navigation experience and the most intuitive interface possible. To that end, we will be integrating services like FAQs and a Q&A feature in the coming months to make it easier to access answers to questions our clients have and to allow them to easily exchange with other parties on a deal. We’re also implementing archiving, an electronic safe system to store and secure data for several decades within a highly secure infrastructure that’s built straight into the interface. We’re seeing a desire from clients to be able to access this data, and to access it quickly. We are always listening to our users and connect with them through the chat window on our website or by phone with someone in the office – they are our primary resource for helping us gather suggestions to further improve our platform.
Capucine Chambriard (CEO’s right hand): on signature regulation and government tech policy
As concerns signature regulation, 2021 will certainly mark the concretisation of regulations that were adopted several years ago. Valid in France since 2000, the electronic signature has been strengthened and harmonised at a European level through the 2014 eIDAS regulation. The use of electronic signatures is often more secure than handwritten signatures, and this technology has become widespread in even the most sensitive sectors of the economy (law, banking, insurance, etc.). A study by Forrester shows the electronic signature market grew by 25% in 2020 – the rise of this technology is explained by the simplicity of its use and by the pandemic, which accelerated its adoption.
Yet, surprisingly, there was still a gap between the discourse held by the French administration and its position in practice. In the field of law, for example, it has still refused to accept electronically signed documents subject to registration fees, which prevented millions of transactions from being concluded electronically. Fortunately, the end of 2020 represents a turning point on this issue, with the adoption of the Finance Act for 2021, which regularises the situation.
2021 will therefore certainly mark the modernisation of the administration with regard to electronic signatures and the fulfilment of promises made. It will no longer be an objective to strive towards but a reality that has become a standard in all areas.
Anastasia Pollack (Sales and Business Development): on digital marketing
2020 was the year everything went fully digital, with companies competing to provide businesses with solutions in order to make that step. Marketing was geared towards standing out from an influx of players in the market and creating a more personal and exciting customer experience – a trend that I think will amplify in 2021.
Content marketing has proven to be a gateway to building value and therefore credibility with clients. Which explains its dominance as a marketing strategy: with an ever-increasing number of legal tech products emerging, companies are setting themselves apart by the value of their content – through blogs, for example, as a way to share expertise and insight on customer pain points. Video marketing in particular has shown to be a dominating force in 2020 as a way to get more qualified leads, and with higher engagement rates and a higher ROI for businesses than many other strategies. Closd has focused on ramping up video marketing with fun visuals in 2020 and will carry that into 2021, with more client testimonials, product tutorials, and company presentations in video form. Along with this goes interactive content that makes the customer feel directly involved in the buying experience. Features we plan to roll out, like an ROI calculator, give a straightforward and simple way for the customer to test the product’s fit for them at first glance, and makes it feel directly relevant to them. 2021 will continue to show that engaging and straightforward content that requires minimal effort from a customer to assess a product will be a way to be noticed in the flood of competition.