There is an art to writing a good legal memo when you are outside counsel. Like any output or product, a memo needs to understand its audience (or end-users) and, through doing so, be pitched at them appropriately.

As a lawyer, I, like many others, would often be over-inclusive of content in memos, whether it was making sure that I had included all the caveats and conditions that may apply (I'd be damned if this memo didn't cater for every possible set of circumstances I could think of) or that it was written clearly and in a way that flowed eloquently.

The trick to a successful legal memo in my view though is not to demonstrate knowledge of the law and word artistry but to elevate key points for the attention of your audience early which could then either be expanded on further later in the memo or be the subject of a phone call or meeting at a later time.

So how does this translate to legal tech?

As with any technology, it is essential to understand your end-user and customer in legal tech. In many cases, whilst lawyers may be the customer that blesses your product for use at their organisation, the end-user could be someone who isn't legally trained (the legal team may be very lean or it may be an end-user to whom a particular piece of work or responsibility has been handed off to). It is important to balance the needs of those two groups of individuals in your product's content.

In the case of the lawyers, you need a product that elevates key points and provides further context and reassures them that you have built your product on a sound legal basis. The great thing about legal technology is that if further context or reassurance is required, you can add a link to a primary source or a legal memo. Often the simple inclusion of a link like this can in itself, be beneficial.

In the case of the end-users, you need to take that elevation of key points a step further and bring to the forefront the decisions and determinations that need to be made in the circumstances for which your product is intended to be used. Again, if further context is required, you have your helpful links to other sources of information to help.

Legal technology is not another format for your legal memo

What legal tech should not, or ever be, is the latest format for your legal memo (following on from paper, MS word files, emails and PDFs).

As with a legal memo, legal tech's purpose should be to make our audience's lives easier and save them time having to dig through statute and legislation to find answers. However, the thing about legal tech is that it should also save them having to dig through the memo as well.