UniCourt Wins American Legal Technology Award 2021
We are incredibly excited to share that UniCourt has been selected as the winner for the Technology Award of the 2021 American Legal Technology Awards. We also want to give a shoutout to runner up, Lawyaw, and honorable mention, FileVine.
The American Legal Technology Awards was co-founded last year by Cat Moon, Director of the PoLI Institute, and Director of Innovation Design for the Program on Law and Innovation at Vanderbilt Law School, Patrick Palace, Founder of Palace Law, and Tom Martin, Founder of LawDroid.
From our conversations with Tom Martin, the American Legal Technology Awards were originally developed to be the Emmys of legal tech in the United States to rival the popular British Legal Technology Awards, a black tie event highlighting innovative, award-winning legal technologists, legal tech companies, and technology oriented law firms.
This year’s American Legal Technology Awards were sponsored by four legal industry heavyweights — LegalZoom, Clio, GNGF, and ARAG, and also featured two leaders in the legal publishing arena as media partners — LawSites and Artificial Lawyer, who both reported that UniCourt clenched the Technology Award.
It also worth noting that the judges for this year’s American Legal Technology Awards are a who’s who in legal, with many names you may have seen before from UniCourt’s Influencer Q&A series: Janine Sickmeyer, Miguel Willis, Shannon Salter, Nick Rishwain, Maya Markovich, Gabriela Cubeiro, Sam Glover, Yvonne Nath, Jean Clauson, Dan Lear, Tiffany Graves, Colin Levy, Irene Mo, Ed Walters, Daniel Rodriguez, Natalie Anne Knowlton, Amanda Brown, Quinten Steenhuis, Felicity Conrad, Alex Su, Nicole Morris, Scott Schlegel, Dorna Moini, and Bahar Ansari.
As with last year, there are 8 categories of Awards being given:
- Access to Justice – an organization or individual who has made a difference by helping the underserved access the legal system through the use of technology.
- Startup – a legal technology startup company that has created a product or service that shows significant promise in providing outsize benefits to its users.
- Enterprise – an established legal technology company that has successfully grown a product or service that demonstrates a unique and positive impact on its users.
- Technology – a technology applied in a new or novel way in the legal industry that achieves a significant benefit.
- Law Firm – a law firm that utilizes technology to exceed client expectations in a significant, measurable way.
- Individual – an individual who has demonstrated success throughout their career in making a positive difference in the world as it related to legal technology.
- Court – a court or judicial officer that displays outstanding use of technology that achieves a significant benefit to the public.
- Law Department – a law department that uses an innovative approach to create significant efficiencies or a positive human impact.
After UniCourt was selected as a runner up for the Enterprise Award last year, behind Litera, one of the largest, and fastest growing legal tech companies in the market, we were excited for the opportunity to participate in the American Legal Technology Awards again this year.
Why the American Legal Technology Awards Matter
One of the things that sets this American Legal Technology Awards apart from other awards is the criteria for selecting winners.
While most award shows are often popularity contests or are driven by who’s the largest, most prestigious company in the industry, the American Legal Technology Awards focuses on how nominees fit within the larger ecosystem and what they are doing to bring about positive change in the legal industry.
To give you a sense of how the awards were chosen, we’ve shared three of our favorite questions and our responses from the nomination process.
How does the nominee’s work expand our understanding of what is possible?
UniCourt has been a market mover on unleashing legal data via our APIs and leading the charge on improving the way the legal industry interacts with litigation data by leveraging automation and structured data for knowledge management, competitive intelligence, business development, legal analytics, and machine learning models.
Though there are several legal research companies and even more legal analytics companies in the growing legal technology ecosystem, UniCourt holds a unique place as a legal tech company that is focused on providing our clients with Legal Data as a Service (LDaaS). By pivoting away from specialized legal analytics and legal research, we have also greatly broadened our customer base outside of the legal industry to now being the core legal data infrastructure for Fortune 500 companies across a number of industries, such as finance, insurance, investigations, protective intelligence, news media, real estate, and many more.
UniCourt has also positioned itself as a thought leader on leveraging APIs and has invested in educating legal professionals on what exactly APIs are, how APIs can make their lives easier, and how APIs can drive efficiencies and insights for improving the practice of law. We are strong proponents of the perspective that APIs are critical to breaking down information silos and we are excited to see that more and more leaders in the legal industry are beginning to recognize more clearly that APIs are vital for unlocking the interoperability and flexibility needed for law firms and legal departments of the future.
How does the nominee’s work encourage a virtuous cycle of improvement?
UniCourt is engaged in a series of virtuous cycles of improvement. The most recognized virtuous cycle of improvement relates to our PACER Collective.
While we would love to see the Open Courts Act pass through Congress and be signed into law by the President to make PACER data free for all to access, we haven’t held our breath. Our PACER Collective was initially established as a partnership between UniCourt and Justia, so we could split the costs of aggregating PACER data to increase the amount of data we could purchase, and then in turn provide our clients and the public with improved access to federal court data.
What has been a successful partnership between Justia and UniCourt has now grown to include other leaders in the Open PACER Data movement, including Fastcase and DocketAlarm, as well as others in the legal research and legal analytics space.
Beyond the PACER Collective, UniCourt’s Legal Data as a Service is founded in furthering a virtuous cycle of improvement. While legacy legal data providers have often acted as gatekeepers obscuring access to court data and related public data sets, UniCourt strongly believes in providing our clients with bulk access to court data so they can in turn develop their own innovative solutions.
More specifically, UniCourt’s LDaaS model pushes forward innovation in the legal industry by removing the costly and burdensome barriers of data collection and data normalization, so that legal tech startups and entrepreneurial legal professionals can build the next generation of products and services to move the profession forward and improve access to justice.
We firmly believe that improving access to legal data is the vehicle that will move the profession toward progress, and we will continue expanding our database and enhancing our normalization technology to help do our part in making the law better for all.
How does the nominee’s work help to create a more just society?
UniCourt’s core mission as a company is to make court data and other public data more accessible and useful. This cornerstone drives what we do as a company and animates our continued push to ensure that the public has access to the court records and other public records impacting their daily lives.
As part of our mission to improve access to court records and make them more useful for the public, UniCourt has published millions of state and federal court cases online for free. The costs to access and standardize state and federal court data is staggering and presents a real obstacle to justice in the United States. Through our work we aim to remove that obstacle.
UniCourt has also used our engineering and development strengths to work on other projects to improve access to the law. For example, UniCourt, under the direction of Public.Resource.Org, has beautified the annotated state codes for multiple states where their codes were previously difficult to access, and transformed these state codes into structured HTML and made them available for free on GitHub.
UniCourt has also provided free access to our platform to legal aid organizations and is currently working with public policy researchers to develop in-depth studies on the impact of litigation, such as debt collection litigation, on consumers in state courts (stay tuned for more about this in the coming weeks!).
Learn More and Get In Touch With Us
We’re thrilled to have been selected as the winner of this year’s Technology Award, and want to give a big thanks to the entire team of the American Legal Technology Awards who worked to make this possible, as well as a special thanks to Clio for sponsoring the Technology Award.
If you’re interested in learning more about UniCourt, how we’re working to encourage a virtuous cycle of improvement, or how you can use Legal Data as a Service, Contact Us and we’ll be in touch.