Why don’t law firms do R&D? It’s a question that Daniel Martin Katz of Michigan State’s Reinvent Law Laboratory has asked in a number of presentations, articles, and interviews, including one at Insight Labs: Recalulate the Future of Law.

As Katz notes, that may be the wrong question, because the industry does have an R&D wing; it’s just not run by the law firms itself. It’s a loosely-organized group of legal tech startups, and there are increasing signs that they are here to stay. One of those signs is the estimated $458 million that has been invested in legal startups in recent years (the number includes about $200 million recently invested in LegalZoom to buy out early investors – which may or may not still fit the definition of a startup). AngelList, which tracks early-stage companies, lists 414 legal startups with an average valuation of $4.3 million.

Katz’s ReInvent Law Laboratory is, first and foremost, a training ground for a new generation of lawyers trained in the integration of technology with the practice of law. But he’s also known for a series of events called ReInvent Law, the most recent of which was held on February 7, 2014 at Cooper Union in New York.

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