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Legal Tech Trends

Accelerating legal innovation: Insights from Henchman and Morae's strategic partnership

HM X Morae

When it comes to redefining the way lawyers approach their work, both Henchman and Morae have an important role to play – so no wonder the two companies decided to team up by combining Henchman’s innovative technology with Morae’s renowned expertise in helping clients align technology with the way they work. Henchman’s Co-CEO and Founder, Jorn Vanysacker, and Chief Product Officer, Julien Steel, met up with Robert Johnson, Senior Director at Morae, a leading partner for law firms in digital and business solutions, to discuss the opportunities and scare factors of AI and Large Language models.

The market

Looking at legal tech, there is a clear before and after to the ChatGPT madness. As ChatGPT disrupted almost every industry, many non-believers in legal tech became curious or were asked by senior management to investigate this new technology. They wondered, How might this affect or even enrich my work?”

And while many lawyers are attracted to the concept of technology, generative AI and large language models, they don’t really know what problem they want the technology to solve. It may seem like a very simple question, but many law firms struggle to identify which processes they want to effectively replace.

If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, no matter how wonderful the technology is, you’re not going to get the results you want”.
- Robert Johnson, Senior Director at Morae

However, according to Jorn Vanysacker, Co-CEO and Founder of Henchman, the market has matured significantly in the last 4 – 5 months in terms of knowing what to expect from AI and what the limitations are. In the coming years, Henchman believes that lawyers will increasingly focus on identifying specific use cases and challenges that AI can help solve, rather than just the capabilities of AI itself.

Be where the lawyers are

The best technologies help to augment a process rather than change it. Robert Johnson, Senior Director at Morae, explains, I’ve seen a lot of technology over the last 20 years, and the things that don’t work are those that force you to do something in an environment that you’re not familiar with.”

When we founded Henchman, we were obsessed with finding out what keeps lawyers up at night”, says Jorn Vanysacker. The three founders of Henchman had no legal background, which forced them to immerse themselves in the ecosystem of lawyers and law firms with an open mind.

Right from the start, two things stood out. One, lawyers are super busy. And two, and I say this with the utmost respect, they are not the most tech-savvy people. Therefore, adoption in legal tech is a huge challenge. So when we were building Henchman, it was very clear that it had to be something that would plug seamlessly into a lawyer’s workflow.”
– Jorn Vanysacker, Co-CEO and Founder at Henchman

Julien Steel, CPO at Henchman, is passionate about this workflow: Lawyers spend a lot of time in Microsoft Outlook and Word. We are right there, right next to them. That is key. We live in their ecosystem. We don’t just want to build fancy things with AI, but we want to solve real problems, issues and challenges that lawyers face.”

In a panel discussion about AI, Dr. Hariolf Wenzler, Director of Bucerius Law School & CEO at YPOG, said: More and more, we live in a B2C experience world. We love Amazon OneClick. We love all that stuff that UI and UX have told us about how easy life can be. And we don’t tolerate bad software just because it’s B2B or it’s in business. So we want to have this smart and swift and consumable experience also when we’re in business.“ Robert Johnson agrees: We all know Microsoft Word isn’t perfect. But we also know that 99% of lawyers use it every day. Ultimately, humans are creatures of habit, so the best thing is to improve and augment their existing way of working.”

Henchman now also integrates with Microsoft Copilot, marking a significant milestone in the legal technology industry. This pioneering collaboration empowers legal professionals to harness the power of collective knowledge stored in their Document Management System, streamline drafting processes, and enhance efficiency like never before, all while securely leveraging AI and benefiting from the best security protocols available from Microsoft.

Read more in the Henchman x Microsoft Press Release

Overcoming technological traumas

In the past, legal companies have spent a lot of money on technology but the products haven’t always lived up to their promise (although they might have looked shiny). So, after many bad experiences, law firms are left with the perception that nothing will ever work and tend to be averse to technological change.

At some point, however, using old technology can actually cost you money. I like to use the analogy of an old car: I had a Volkswagen Golf. The dealer wanted to give me £500 for it if I sold it to him. But to get it fully repaired, I had to spend £800. So the cost outweighed the value of the car. We humans have a real problem with this stopping point’ because it’s an acceptance of failure.
- Robert Johnson, Senior Director at Morae. 

However, law firms are finally catching up: since ChatGPT, many new legal tools and opportunities have emerged. The speed at which these solutions can demonstrate value is key to overcoming past traumas. At Henchman, the record from getting the customer’s signature to onboarding the end user is less than 24 hours. That means connecting to the legal team’s Document Management System (DMS) and processing often hundreds of thousands of contracts resulting in millions of clauses and definitions, which are then made available to the end user in less than a day.

According to Julien Steel, this is where Henchman really adds value: We see ourselves as an intelligent layer on top of your database. No matter how unstructured it is today, we help you bring structure to unstructured data. Henchman automatically extracts and categorizes important information, and identifies contracts, clauses and clause references. We mirror existing metadata and user permissions, and generate additional metadata to make clauses and definitions easier to find.”

We’re leveraging large language models to get additional insights, to help you summarize, to help you compare, to help you build on what you already have.”
- Julien Steel, CPO at Henchman

The data-driven lawyer

Over the next 12 to 18 months, Jorn Vanysacker says the focus will be on contextuality, supporting lawyers in data-driven decision making. Just like a Chief of Staff acts as a confidant advisor to a firm’s Chief Executive, so will Henchman for legal professionals: By using AI and large language models to understand the context in which you’re working, we’ll be able to increase the relevance of proactive suggestions so that the documents you produce are not only of the highest quality, but also fully compliant with your firm’s standards.“

And this will help lawyers to not be consumed by low-value, high volume work, freeing up time to be strategic partners for their clients. Because ultimately, lawyers got into law to do sexy M&A deals, to participate in litigation, to help corporations and startups on their growth path – not to spend weeks on back and forth negotiation of a contract. Jorn, Julien and Robert agree that that is why technology can be very helpful.

Watch the full video