When it comes to purchasing things, I am a thorough – some would ungenerously say “obsessive” - researcher. I will run down friends, experts, user reviews, Reddit postings, Google reviews and more or less absorb what virtually any nut with a keyboard and an internet connection has to say about something I am planning to buy. I don’t take any of them as gospel truth, but individual data points of varying trustworthiness, recency and applicability that I try to synthesize into a go/no decision. Makes pretty good sense when buying something expensive like a car, but in truth, can be a little maddening to my wife when it is for, say, a banana slicer. (If you have a spare 2 minutes, read a few of the reviews.)
As the universe of legal tech options has matured and expanded over the past decade or so, it has become a broad and complex market of solutions, products and companies that can provide a lot of value to a lawyer in private practice. But as it has grown in depth and breadth, one thing that has been missing for a long time is a comprehensive directory of reviews.
Legal tech decisions are expensive, complicated and rare enough, that most lawyers in private practice don’t have the time to devote to chasing down products and reviews to sort the wheat from the chaff. As a result, they rely heavily on company generated PR and legal tech consultants who make their living supporting one product or another and may consequently be challenged by confirmation bias. Or as Upton Sinclair put it, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
This year a new resource to help solve this exact challenge has emerged thanks to long time legal tech journalist Bob Ambrogi and his son Ben Ambrogi. The pair has created a directory called the LawNext Directory and it aims to be a comprehensive directory of legal technology products and buyer resources. I may have buried the lede here, but it is also free to users.
The Directory pulls in helpful information about a product from around the web, user reviews and places it in context with other competing products as well as in the overall schema of technology a law firm might want to consider using. Kind of a Consumer Reports for legal tech. It's still early days and it will become more comprehensive as more users add their own reviews and contribute their experiences.
So, if your firm is looking to purchase or upgrade technology, I’d heartily endorse adding a stop at the directory to see if it has any information to help your search. Investing some time to be an educated consumer will pay dividends in terms of a better decision-making framework.
Just stop sometime before you get to the banana slicer.