Zach Warren is the editor-in-chief of Legaltech News, ALM’s outlet devoted solely to technology in law. He has been with Legaltech News since 2015, exploring the intersection of law and technology, and writing and editing features and daily articles. Before that, Zach worked at InsideCounsel magazine and the sports analytics startup numberFire. He currently lives in Minneapolis, and received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Minnesota. We recently chatted with Zach to discuss how legal technology has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic, and trends on the horizon.
Q: What has changed in legal tech reporting since COVID-19?
This has certainly been an interesting time in legal technology. Before the pandemic, law firms and legal departments talked about innovative and differentiating technology without much action, but COVID-19 and remote work forced them to double down on those strategies and quickly implement new technology. In fact, I’ve heard it said that the industry moved forward a decade in six months.
On the flip side, the industry rushed to implement new technology and systems without a lot of time and thought so now, as we move forward, organizations are taking a step back and looking at programs, such as collaborative technology and e-billing systems, more strategically to decide what does and doesn’t work.
From a reporting perspective, many of our readers looked to Legaltech News in the early days of the pandemic for quick fixes. Moving forward, we are reporting more strategically with tactical pieces taking a long-term view of the legal technology.
Q: What technology trends are on the horizon?
I am seeing a lot of attention paid to the contract and transactional space. While legal technology used to focus mostly on litigation, discovery and research, we are now seeing tech and venture capital money in the legal tech space, so the contract management lifecycle is especially important. And corporate legal departments are the first to adopt this type of technology.
Collaboration technology continues to be an important tech trend. The legal industry is dependent on technology that provides easy-to-facilitate documents, the ability for payment back and forth, and — of course — video calls. This technology ensures people can stay in touch even if they aren’t physically in the same place.
Q: What type of sources are you looking for?
First and foremost, a knowledgeable source who knows, understands and can speak to the legal technology space. Second, the best sources have something unique to say and can provide thought leadership on a topic that not everyone knows about. I’m always looking for sources who can educate my readers on topics they may not already know about or understand.
Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
Working at a place like ALM, we have many different brands with reporters covering various beats. My biggest pet peeve is when those reaching out to me haven’t researched what Legaltech News covers. Sources should do their research, especially for contributed content. Our coverage has to include legal and tech, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t fit.
Q: Looking ahead, what are some trends you are interested in covering?
Recently, like with many industries, diversity is a major issue that has come to the forefront. In the legal tech space, diversity hasn’t gotten a lot of attention. We are working to spotlight more coverage discussing what it means to be a diverse founder in legal tech, as well as how to encourage greater diversity from outside providers.
Q. What are some of the publications you read outside of the ALM family?
Legal technology has historically been an area that has been neglected. I appreciate coverage by others in the space, including Bob Ambrogi's LawSites blog, Joe Patrice at Above the Law and Victor Li at the ABA Journal. Since I come from a journalism background, I enjoy the business point of view and follow publications like TechCrunch and the Wall Street Journal.