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Greg Billinge

Greg Billinge

08 July 2024

pinqDR joins a GREAT Legal Services Delegation to Texas

pinqDR joined a GREAT Legal Services Delegation to Texas in June 2024. From the heat of Houston to the hustle of Dallas, this post is a summary of how joining a UK Government trip to promote the British Legal Services market and UK LegalTech went. pinqDR's COO Greg Billinge recalls learnings and highlights from the trip and gives opinion on the Texas market for aspiring UK LegalTech businesses.

In June, the pinqDR team were invited to join a delegation of UK based LegalTech companies on a Ministry of Justice GREAT Legal Services trip to Texas, USA. GREAT Legal Services promotes and supports the strength of English and Welsh Law, and UK legal expertise to the global market. Whilst initially the shock announcement of a general election on 4th July put the trip in uncertain waters, we were delighted that it was able to go ahead albeit without the minister (Mike Freer, former Under-Secretary of State for Courts and Legal Services) in attendance. 

The delegation started in Houston focused on events at the British Consulate and moved on to Dallas for the second half of the week, with the Texas State Bar Conference the focus. 

Iain Quirk KC and Greg Billinge joined the teams of 6 other LegalTech companies in Houston to start off the delegation. In the blistering Houston heat the sessions and meetings began. In this blog post we wanted to reflect on the trip and learnings both around the Texas market, and UK-based LegalTechs’ ability and approaches to enter this (and the wider US) market.


The complete delegation team at the British Consulate in Houston

Houston - Understanding the Texas market

At the sessions with Richard Hyde (His Majesty’s Consul General in Houston), The Greater Houston Partnership and CLA Connect, among others, we were left with no uncertainty of Texas’ vast scale. Not just in land (nearly 3 times the size of the UK) but in its economy, inbound immigration and urban population. 


The scale of Texas represented over Eurpoe

As the second largest economy in the United States, Texas has firmly established itself as a powerhouse on the global stage. With a Gross Domestic Product exceeding $2 trillion, Texas alone would rank as the ninth-largest economy in the world, surpassing the GDP of Canada and South Korea, and fast approaching 8th position. 

A large contributor to this economic growth is the robust influx of residents from across the United States, contributing to its status as one of the fastest-growing states. Between 2010 and 2020, the state's population grew by nearly 4 million people, a 15.9% increase, largely driven by inbound migration from states like California, New York, and Illinois. This migration is not just about numbers; it reflects a broader trend of individuals and businesses seeking better economic opportunities, lower taxes, and a more favourable regulatory environment.

Texas is home to 53 Fortune 500 companies, the second-highest number in the nation. Some of the notable names include AT&T, ExxonMobil, Texas Instruments and American Airlines. In recent years, prominent companies such as Tesla, Oracle, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have relocated their headquarters to Texas, drawn by its pro-business policies and vibrant economic landscape.

Another preconception was that Texas industry is dominated by oil and gas. Whilst this is still a significant industry in the State, the size and growth of the technology, manufacturing, renewables and healthcare industries was compelling. For example, The Texas Medical Center in Houston is the largest medical complex in the world, providing cutting-edge healthcare and contributing significantly to medical research and innovation.

The current political climate in Texas is dynamic, reflecting broader national trends. Issues such as immigration, healthcare, gun control, and energy policy are hotly debated, with urban areas often advocating for more progressive stances while rural communities prefer conservative approaches. In fact Texas is a tale of two sides; the urban populations predominantly representing democratic values and rural communities in the republican stronghold. The ongoing demographic shifts, driven by immigration and the migration of residents from other states, are expected to continue influencing Texas politics. Younger, more diverse populations in cities are likely to push for change, potentially challenging the state’s long standing Republican dominance.

All of this was very evident to us as we explored Houston and made our way, by road, to Dallas. Some of the, potentially naive and certainly media driven, expectations of Texas were far from our experience. Sure, the guns and cowboys are there and the pride in being Texan is strong, but Houston and Dallas were much more akin to a (very warm) London than a scene from the Wild West.

Doing business in Texas 

The scale and opportunity is undeniable, but how do you go about entering the Texas market?  Iain and I carried out meetings around the delegation timetable throughout the week. The openness and hospitality of our hosts was exceptional and the interest in what pinqDR are doing was also fantastic. 

In one of the sessions it was pointed out that business meetings in Texas consist of 75% talk of family, likes and common interests and 25% of business at the end. Now, this is obviously a mass generalisation, but this theme was pleasantly evident in our interactions. From tours of (incredible) sporting memorabilia and highly curated music collections with our friends at Diamond McCarthy, to nearly every person we met offering us a lift to wherever we needed to be next, the welcome and friendly approach was humbling. Furthermore, the business end of the sessions were engaging and challenging, and left us all the better as we look to grow pinqDR globally. 

Carrying out over 16 meetings over the course of the week, from law firms to in-house counsel to judges, we gained insight and knowledge of the Texas, and wider US, market that will really help develop our aspirations for growth. We are excited to further the connections built over this week in the coming months and enable more businesses to realise the benefits of fast, binding dispute resolution through pinqDR.

Delegation Highlights

We wanted to highlight just a few of the events through the course of this delegation. 

Firstly the reception at the Consul General’s residence in Houston highlighted the best of British and was attended by some fantastic figures from the legal industry. 


The garden of the British Consul General's Residence, Houston where the delegation's reception was held.

A lively discussion was enjoyed at a roundtable on the deployment of AI: trends, challenges and opportunities with tech leaders from international law firms and businesses. Hosted by Clifford Chance in Houston it was very clear that every team in every aspect of legal work is being affected by the adoption of new technologies and that those who are not are already being left behind. Bringing more traditional clients through this journey, and adapting to more progressive clients demands for efficiencies and (more importantly) fee optimisation, were topics of great interest. 

The Texas State Bar conference held at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas was, like everything in Texas, a large event! It was multi faceted with many talks, panels and breakout sessions over two days. Whilst not strictly relevant to our business, the keynote held over lunch on Thursday was a fascinating insight into the inner workings of the Depp vs Herde trial. Camille Vasquez spoke openly and captivated the audience in tales of trial strategy and more of the personal side of representing Johnny Depp over the years. 

The conference itself provided a great insight into the legal practices across Texas and we had many positive conversations with attorneys and in-house counsel alike. From a LegalTech standpoint it was interesting to see (from afar!) a workshop on ‘Practical Tech Tips for Microsoft Word/O365 and more’ which does in some sense highlight how far the legal industry still has to go in the comfortable adoption of progressive technologies.

Finally the ‘TechTok Reception’ hosted by the GREAT Legal Services campaign, at the Texas State Bar conference, was well attended and interest in all of the UK LegalTechs was evident. 

Our experience in Texas

One theme that consistently impressed us was the genuine friendliness of the people in Texas. People from all walks of life greeted us with a combination of interest, pride and helpfulness. Indeed, every restaurant we visited and activity we embarked upon was from recommendations from Uber drivers to hotel porters and lawyers - without a single miss. 

Moreover, and particularly in Houston, was the projection of happiness of life in the city and state. Quality of life, accessibility of the city’s amenities and professional opportunity all play into a sense of connectedness rarely seen in today’s world.

To share a couple of those highlights we would thoroughly recommend lunch at Ninfas TexMex, especially on a game day. If you’re heading north from Houston, a fantastic little ramen stop off at Dragon Bowl Noodle Bar, Conroe is well worth it. As for Texas BBQ check out Angelo’s Bar-B-Que in Fort Worth. A night out at Red River Saloon, Dallas is authentic Texan fun. Our most popular recommendation, and what seems as a right of passage when travelling through Texas, is a visit to a Buc-ee's service station which has it all, including beaver nuggets and the “cleanest toilets in Texas”...


A selection of pictures from our travels from Houston to Dallas. Clockwise from top left: The Fort Worth Stockyards outside Dallas, a view of Dallas downtown from the Diamond McCarthy offices, the TechTok event at the Texas State Bar Conference, Cowboys of the cattle drive, some traditional Texan BBQ (one of many!), Buc-ee's! & the UK:USA partnership in action for the GREAT Legal Services delegation.

We owe thanks to the GREAT Legal Services team at the Ministry of Justice for organising and facilitating this delegation, particularly in navigating the impact of an election here in the UK. The team organised a varied and professional agenda for the delegates and supported us in preparing for the trip. Socially the GREAT team were also engaging and fun to be around and helped all the companies involved to experience more of what Texas has to offer. For more information on the GREAT campaigns visit their website.

We would also like to recognise the other LegalTechs involved in the delegation - companies with varying solutions and stages of development. A great group of people who all took learnings and insight from each other, and we look forward to keeping in touch. Check out their products at: Avvoka, Definely, Genie AI, Jigsaw, Legatics & StructureFlow.

Finally, is Texas an achievable market for pinqDR? In short, yes, without doubt. A buoyant commercial environment with continuing growth, inbound immigration and increasing interest from corporate America, presents a great opportunity for ADR. Not just a market reliant on Oil & Gas, but one expanding in all industries. From a bustling start-up scene in Austin (and elsewhere), to seismic investment in renewable energy across the State, the commercial markets in Texas represent a fantastic opportunity to introduce access to justice in more accessible, affordable and much faster ways. pinqDR is well positioned to take on that challenge and we look forward to the future of dispute resolution in the Lone Star State.