In 2017, out looking for another big idea, the new generation of artificial intelligence start-ups targeting the legal industry caught his attention. As he looked further, he saw literally hundreds of companies offering or developing new technology for the legal industry.
At the same time, from conversations with friends at big law firms, he was struck by how little had changed in the basic infrastructure underpinning even the largest practices – and as a result, how difficult it was for firms to adopt modern technology or achieve genuine business transformation.
Rather than pursue development of a single purpose AI application, Andy concentrated on a larger opportunity: to help firms and vendors of legal technology adopt new standards and approaches that could remove barriers preventing meaningful modernization.
While Andy counted a number of areas where friction was evident, he focused first on the most significant obstacle – the clear disconnect between the fact that, on the one hand, most modern computing applications are designed and built to run in the cloud while, on the other hand, large firms still run nearly all of their software on-premises in order to maintain direct control over security, data protection and stability.
The “solution” that came into focus was derived in equal measure from something Andy had learned during his tenure at Spotzer and from a discovery completely new to him.
At Spotzer, the principal challenge for many years had been how to cost effectively sell to plumbers, painters and other very small businesses. Ultimately, Spotzer embraced a channel strategy — selling indirectly through telecoms, hosting companies and local media publishers that already had relationships with large quantities of small businesses. In that event, Spotzer wound up integrating its offerings onto a pair of competing “services automation” platforms that had grown to scale by making it easy for large enterprises serving SMBs to launch and maintain app stores featuring a wide range of third-party software products through a single, secure platform.
Inspired by the idea that the legal industry could benefit from a similar services automation platform, Andy went out to canvass technology experts. In looking for a way to quickly build a solution store and control panel to manage subscriptions, provisioning and telemetry of third-party legal apps, he discovered Docker (containers) and Kubernetes (container orchestration) – remarkable new technologies just hitting the mainstream and enabling cloud-based software to be written once and run anywhere.
Thus, the vision for Reynen Court crystalized. A consortium of major law firms would help influence application vendors to bring to market containerized, portable versions of their software; Reynen Court would build a single platform through which firms and legal departments could easily source and adopt new technologies without having to trust firm or client content to the growing universe of vertically integrated SaaS vendors.