In 2019, InvestCEE launched a project to determine and quantify key players enabling innovation of legal services across Central Eastern Europe (CEE). We are quite excited about this first regional study aimed to examine a new market currently carving out an innovative aspect of legal services, often referred to as newlaw. This blogpost is a sneak peek into our research project and the more detailed report to follow.
The 2019 research project focused broadly on the CEE region without looking for a strict geopolitical definition for this term. Our interest generally spanned from the more northern countries in the Baltics over to the more southern countries in the Balkans and including the countries in between, although we did not cover German and Russian speaking jurisdictions. Specifically, for the purposes of this year’s report, we looked at countries such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
For the research, we studied the websites of business entities that had a reference to “legal technology” or “legal innovation”, searched through public information relating to legaltech themed meetups or conferences in Europe and reviewed public databases maintained by legaltech event organizers (specifically the startup map prepared by Legal Geek in collaboration with Thomson Reuters). This research was augmented by direct communication with several local entities or individuals from various CEE jurisdictions whom we contacted for insights about the current state of their respective legaltech markets. We focused specifically on grassroots initiatives aiming to innovate the legal sector and did not cover incumbent providers traditionally serving the CEE legal market. As a result of our research and surveys, we identified more than 50 newlaw players that currently shape the CEE legal ecosystem.
We found that newlaw players in CEE fall into three main categories:
- LegalTech Tools with Scale: startups or scaleups developing software tools for the legal industry at large (we found their product and service offering to be relevant across the CEE region, potentially even on a global scale);
- LegalTech Tools for Locals: startups or scaleups developing software tools for a given local jurisdiction only (country-specific solutions); and
- Innovative Legal Services: alternative service providers that perform a range of tasks enabling the growth and expansion of the CEE newlaw ecosystem (studios and boutique firms offering technology-assisted and consulting services).
From the CEE jurisdictions covered in our research, we found four jurisdictions to stand out in terms of quantitative contributions made to the legaltech sector. In 2019, the four key contributors of the region are: Hungary, Estonia, Poland and the Czech Republic, giving home to the vast majority of the legaltech startups and scaleups in the CEE region. Further, we also located at least one outstanding legaltech service provider from each of the following jurisdictions: Bulgaria (LegalTrek), Latvia (Amberlo), Lithuania (Juro) and Romania (KeyVision).