No code or low-code platforms – the “Swiss Pocket Knife” for the development of LegalTech applications?

During the last few months, one application in particular has generated above-average interest in the German-speaking legal tech market: the “No-Code” platform “BRYTER“.

Almost no week passes in which on LinkedIn or Twitter contributions about a “hackathon” cannot be read, in which software solutions are developed using the mentioned application by lawyers (of all hierarchical levels) of a law firm or legal department, for example for the assessment of a “temporary employment” or a “protection of secrets” on one day.

Among the law firms hosting the event are large units such as Freshfields or Ashurst as well as specialist law firms such as Kliemt. At this year’s Anwaltszukunftskongress in Cologne, this platform solution was also mentioned more frequently in the lectures in the context of the incipient LegalTech implementations at various organisational units.

What makes this application so special that it is currently being intensively evaluated by so many law firms and legal departments and in some cases is already being used productively?

What are "No-Code" / "Low-Code" platforms?

BRYTER is a so-called “no code” platform, with which rule-based workflow applications can be implemented without the use of special programming languages such as Javascript, Python or C# (A good video explaining what a workflow is can be found on youtube here).

Furthermore, when developing applications, no programming knowledge is required with regard to the implementation of database queries or security mechanisms, as these areas are automatically provided by the platform.

Since the “development” is done by means of a graphical editor, in which the individual steps of a process are “merged” by concatenating different symbols, this work can also be carried out without knowledge of a “normal” programming language. For the first “steps as a developer” for BRYTER-Apps, a short explanation of the user interface is usually sufficient. “Assembled” workflows can be tested immediately by the author with one click. The integration of (external) development teams can be largely omitted.

Advantages of "No-Code / Low-Code"

The idea of program development without the use of “classical” programming languages using graphical user interfaces is not new, however, but has been practiced outside the legal market in other industries for several years. So why the special interest in BRYTER lately?

On the one hand, the technology of “no code” platforms has been increasingly relevant in other markets for years, providers such as Mendix or Outsystems are also used in technology-oriented industries such as the aviation industry or mechanical engineering to implement software solutions in many business areas – in addition to applications that have been “classically” programmed.

According to widely expressed opinions, the average development time of standardized applications is reduced by more than a third when using no code/low code solutions compared to the implementation of a corresponding application with classical programming tools.

In particular, the reduction of development costs for the implementation of security functionalities and the simple adaptability of the developed applications to changed processes are a big plus point of No-Code or Low-Code.
(With low-code development tools, visual designers are combined with “classic” program code, so that programming languages are also used for implementation in this category, but to a much lesser extent than with “normal” development tools).

Drawbacks of "No-Code" / "Low-Code"

Of course there are also disadvantages when using No-Code/Low-Code tools for software development, especially with No-Code platforms there is often the problem that they cannot generate the necessary code flexibly enough for the implementation of a desired application.

Low-code development tools are considerably more powerful because – if the implementation using graphical editors is not sufficient – the desired functionalities can be added using textual program code, thus opening up a considerable extension of the scope of such development platforms.

In the application scenario of BRYTER or other No-Code applications in the legal market, the ” threat ” of a lack of flexibility plays a rather subordinate role, since on the one hand processes in the legal environment are often well visually presentable – one only has to remember the graphical examination scheme during the studies – on the other hand, these solutions have a constantly growing number of so-called “Connectors” and “Extensions”, via which specially required functionalities (for example, the sending of an e-mail within the scope of a process) can be inserted as “workflow building blocks” during the modelling of the program flow.

Why is Bryter so popular in the "No Code" category?

In addition, there are two other aspects which, in my opinion, are also of great importance for the success of Bryter.
Firstly, the graphical user interface is intuitive and appealing, so that the inhibition threshold for using the program is also very low for first-time users.
On the other hand, it is possible for the licensees of the application not only to develop corresponding “BRYTER programs” for internal use, but also to license these programs externally – to the clients of a law firm. The law firms can thus open up new business fields and income opportunities. No other provider in this application segment has so far implemented such a monetary perspective as consistently as BRYTER.

"No-Code/Low-Code" = one fit it all?

Are representatives of the “No-Code/Low-Code” development environments for the creation of LegalTech applications both for internal use and for external sub-licensing really the ” Swiss Pocket Knife “, i.e. an absolute must for every individual Legal Tech software project at law firms and legal departments?

I think, as is so often the case in the legal environment, the answer is “it depends“.

BRYTER or the other development tools mentioned above undoubtedly simplify the implementation of visually appealing and easily modifiable programs in many areas, if the underlying business logic is mainly rule-based.
If, for example, clients are to be offered a software solution based on a relatively rigid legal audit concept, the creation of such an application using BRYTER or other No-Code/Low-Code platforms is a good decision in any case, as both the time for implementation and the costs of a corresponding implementation can be kept within economically reasonable limits.
In the case of projects in which the intended client application is to be “completely embedded” in the client’s IT infrastructure and, in addition to legal aspects, also contain functions that cover the processes of the client’s business operations, the functional scope of a No-Code or a Low-Code platform will probably reach its limits, so that in such cases implementation with classical development tools using programming languages should be preferred.
Finally, the costs for the licensing of the platforms mentioned could also stand in the way of their use in some projects.

I am very curious to see how BRYTER and the other providers of No-Code/Low-Code applications will be used by law firms and legal departments and which solutions, especially for clients, will be created by these development tools in the future.

Even if besides “BRYTER & Co Apps” further developments using programming languages will be necessary for the implementation of “own” LegalTech applications, the “No-Code/Low-Code” tools are a very good tool and definitely worth a closer look.

This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)