In the ever-increasing competition for tech business in states, regulations matter. Many cities offer financial incentives to attract business, but a favorable regulatory environment for legal tech has certainly been stifled by a lack of regulation, or perhaps, over-regulation due to a failure to update the existing ones to account for the technological advances of the past decade.
But now, Florida’s Supreme Court has a few matters on the bench that could turn Florida into a legal tech hub. A recent feature in AboveTheLaw’s tech blog, EvolveTheLaw, discusses the three issues, broadly framing the matters as an opportunity for the state’s high court to make the state a leader for the legal tech industry, potentially attracting new businesses and more importantly, innovation in the legal tech sector.
In short, the three issues before the Florida High Court involve two lawsuits and one proposed regulation. The two cases are basically covering issues involving Uber-like lawyer matchmaking services and whether fee-splitting, or referral fees, should be allowed. Both of these cases hold broad implications for the legal marketing industry, which could be discouraged from further investment or innovation if adverse decisions are reached.
The proposed regulation is only loosely related to legal tech, but involves a new state rule of court requiring appearance attorneys to file a notice of appearance before each appearance. As suggested on EvolveTheLaw, this sort of rule would require online filing, and for expediency’s sake, the ability for tech companies to offer an easy, simple to use, tech solution for those attorneys.
As suggested, these cases present an opportunity for the court to revisit the regulations behind the fee sharing with non-lawyers as well as the use of tech in legal matchmaking services. Commentators propose that if the court crafts new regulations to ensure that legal consumers would not be harmed, such as when paralegals are authorized to perform certain clerical duties for public, legal tech companies will be more willing to invest, which will be good for the state, as well as good for legal consumers, and the innovation in legal tech.
And if you’re not a Florida lawyer, don’t think they won’t do it. After all, Florida has a tech CLE requirement.