Just over 5 years ago, I met with stalwart Philip Maskell and the visionary, charismatic (and greatly missed), Richard Newton; whom I’d known and worked with for 2 decades, to discuss what an automation services business could look like.
Geography and logistics meant our meeting place was the café of a hot tub showroom of all places!
The next time we met among the hot tubs, Emma Bond joined us to contribute her vast knowledge of legal automation and working with law firms to our discussions.
We didn’t buy any hot tubs. But echo.legal was born in that very café.
Five Years of Legal Automation
In 2019 we signed our first partnership agreement with Thomson Reuters. Former Clifford Chance Director of Knowledge Gail Swaffield joined the team along with Eric Campbell, our first automation lawyer. I purchased a “start-up” ticket to Legal Geek that year and some years on, we are practically veterans!
In 2020 we grew with some more amazing hires. Hannah Price-Harries added her extensive Real Estate law experience and knowledge of working in-house to the team. We bagged legal automation superstar Will Summers, and HighQ techie expert Konstantinos Georgiadis also became part of our growing roster of “fun geeks.”
2021 was our year of partnership growth, as we collaborated with other legal technology vendors including Avvoka and HotDocs. We also automated the oneNDA in conjunction with TLB and used docassemble to automate the environmental clauses alongside The Chancery Lane Project.
In 2022 the formidable Anna Turner brought, further Contract Express implementation, project management and automation insights to our team and Rhianne Armstrong added her skills in banking law, law firm-led external projects and legal operations to the mix.
Remembering Richard Newton – the inspiration behind echo.legal
2021-2022 was also the hardest 18-months emotionally; first with the sudden stepping back of Richard from the business and then the finality of his very sad loss.
In many ways this made us more determined to realise our shared vision and make him proud. He is in much of our ongoing decision-making and though I miss his banter and industry acumen, I feel privileged to have known and worked with him for so long.
Automating our way into 2023 and beyond
2023 was one of our busiest years so far. With real life back in full force after COVID, the Fun Geeks took to the road to speak at the LTH Automation Conference, Legal Tech in the South West, Queen Mary University Leicester and the Avvoka Logically Drafted conference.
Alongside the usual automation staples for the Banking, Corporate and Real Estate practice areas, we’re seeing other areas such as Private Client, and Intellectual Property alongside innovative uses of HighQ to create externally-facing client projects, fee estimators and tracker tools. And we’re looking forward to even more innovation as our customers get to grips with GenAI and exploring conversational interfaces in 2024!
So what have we seen since those days of meeting up in hot tub cafes?
We have seen an influx of automation tools, a bigger push to move to cloud services and, more recently the challenges and opportunities posed by the advent of GenAI. We’ve seen how the industry has responded to global issues with projects affected by COVID and economic crises, with an initial stalling followed by a greater understanding of the need to digitise and automate. Being small and virtual means we have been able to be agile and lean but also highly available for our clients when they need us.
Having spent time researching and now having written this all down, I can’t believe how far we have come in five years. From a team of just four people and a client base of one law firm, we more than doubled in size and now have a client base of over 50 law firms and in-house legal teams. I remember two years before echo.legal was even a twinkle in Richard’s eye, I had an opportunity to start a similar project. My own lack of confidence held me back, but with Richard, Philip and Emma as part of the team, it all felt possible and like a fun adventure. I have never planned my career, but always believed in the power of recognizing opportunities and walking through open doors. Being part of a team that always has each other’s backs and does the best for our clients, makes me very proud of what we have collectively achieved. Who knows what’s in store for us over the next two, three or five years but with a team like this – I feel we can achieve anything!
A huge thanks on our fifth birthday to our law firm and legal team clients and to our growing team of legal technology specialists – you are all truly the best in the business.
And for our tenth anniversary? Maybe we’ll even buy the echo.legal hot tub....!