When it comes to seriously established legal tech companies, most of them operate outside Australia whilst selling products to Australian firms. There’s nothing inherently problematic about this, but it does mean that a lot of the creative decisions about the future of legal technology are being made by companies that have no vested interest in treating the unique needs of Aussie lawyers as a priority. When it comes to emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, it’s crucial that Australia should be building the necessary architecture from the ground up or else we risk getting left behind in this vital arena.
When a local firm looks at Habeas, one risk factor they might perceive is that we are not a ‘known entity’ and we don’t have the flashy media presence of a start-up that has raised tens of millions of dollars. However, I encourage these firms to weigh this up against the mission of building legal tech which prioritises the needs of Australian lawyers. After all, there is a strong irony in the fact that even when legal tech companies are founded locally, they target international markets first. The Australian legal market is large and there are plenty of problems to solve right here, right now.
There’s also a lot of advantages to backing an Australian-first company leveraging AIfrom a business perspective. In comparison with products that are ‘general purpose’, our product is explicitly designed and trained in accordance with the nuances of Australian case law. This means it’s much less prone to hallucination or providing vague, substanceless answers. It also means that you can use it more effectively an ideation assistant when you’re struggling with an argument, or curious about other approaches to a legal topic you might not have considered.
Local tech startups like Habeas have a stronger understanding of the social dynamics of the operating environment here and can provide a personalized level of servicedue to our proximity to firms we work with. After all, one of the most valuable things you can do as a start-up founder is meet your users in person and get their feedback on the product you’ve designed. It’s also easier to structure deals and ensure compliance with the local regulatory environment when you’re dealing with a local business.
Ultimately,the core argument here is about sovereignty. Local tech sovereignty is not about jingoism or ‘pride’, it's about having control over our digital destiny and crafting technologies in sync with our laws, values, and culture. The most impactful solutions for Australia's legal landscape might just lie in our own backyard. And Aussie law firms desperately deserve products that are tailored to their unique problems and interests.