The biggest alternative legal services provider (ALSP) in Ireland is heading to London and the US next year after closing a €10.5m (£9.1m) funding round.
Dan Fox, chief executive of Johnson Hana, said staff numbers at the firm could double by the end of next year from 240, including 200 lawyers, to almost 500.
The funding round was led by AIB plc and backed by “a host of angel investors”.
Johnson Hana, founded by Mr Fox and his brother Alex in 2017, provides its clients, many of whom are multi-national companies, with two main services – legal process outsourcing and contract lawyers.
Mr Fox said most of Johnson Hana’s lawyers worked on a part-time basis, often for around 20 hours a week.
“We want to inject some flexibility into the lives of the lawyers, which we believe have been prejudiced for too long.”
He said Johnson Hana had successfully “developed momentum” with multi-nationals and “grown with them”. The firm works for Ryanair, Airbnb, LinkedIn, Twitter and others. Around 5% of its work is for law firms, such as Linklaters.
Mr Fox said he had “grand ambitions” for Johnson Hana. “We believe we could become the world’s best ALSP. Nobody has really quite identified yet the true potential scale of legal work that is process rather than legal advice.”
He said it was important to get “boots on the ground” in the UK and US next year, and by the summer new offices should be in place in London and San Francisco. This would bring the staff total by the end of 2023 to somewhere around 500.
Mr Fox said Johnson Hana was also looking to “double down” on the growth in the Republic of Ireland, which he described as “probably the most antiquated market that there is”.
He went on: “There must be a better way. Legal work and process must be carved up so that businesses can pay for value. There has been an absence of management and technology tools here, to ensure the right lawyer is undertaking the right task.”
However, government agencies and the Irish government had led the way with outsourcing.
Another advantage of Ireland lay in the multi-nationals that had relocated since Brexit, along with the talent pool of “English-speaking, highly educated lawyers, who want to work in more flexible ways”.
In a separate development, Manchester-based contract management specialist Summize has secured £5m funding to expand into the US.
The funding was raised through YFM Equity Partners’ British smaller companies venture capital trusts (VCTs) and the Maven VCTs.
Tom Dunlop, co-founder and CEO at Summize, said the company, launched in 2018, helped clients secure greater value from business contracts by speeding up and automating processes, from creating a contract through to analytics and summaries.
“Unlike many of our competitors, our system integrates directly with existing collaboration tools, which is vital for adoption across the business.”
Mr Dunlop, a solicitor and former in-house lawyer, said: “The Series A funding will enable us to build out our sales and marketing capabilities and accelerate expansion with a presence in the US, which is a huge potential market for us.”
Summize said it had more than 100 businesses on its platform, including Fujifilm, Everton FC, Moonpig and The Modern Milkman.
Speaking to Legal Futures in the summer, Mr Dunlop predicted that embracing change and innovation would separate winners from losers among law firms.