Law firm begins work with entrepreneurs to build lawtech start-ups

Buchan: Legaltech is at a pivotal moment

Six entrepreneurs looking to develop lawtech start-ups have joined a new programme at the incubator MDR LAB, created by London law firm Mishcon de Reya.

‘Launch’ is a six-month programme that helps individuals build new ventures in or “adjacent to” the legal market.

Run in collaboration with Founders Factory – which describes itself as a pre-seed to series A venture studio and accelerator – the group is following “an immersive learning experience to access the tools, frameworks and support needed to build a backable business”.

Founders that make it through the mid-way investment committee will receive an initial investment from Mishcon de Reya to support with product development and can also access a further £100,000 of pre-seed funding to help them go to market.

The emphasis in the inaugural cohort is on founders from backgrounds traditionally under-represented in tech:

  • Cristian Gherhes, a social scientist with a specific interest in artificial intelligence and its impact on next generation professional services. His Lexyfi business is looking to mitigate the litigation risk that companies are exposed to through email exchanges;
  • Jasmine Gavigan, who has a decade of experience automating processes at law firms in Canada as well as e-commerce at Shopify. With VrtuLaw, she wants to help law firms re-imagine how their lawyers and legal staff operate and to take on the billable hour;
  • Law graduate Jeremy Bormann and Chris Thittayil have co-founded Legal-Pythia, working on optimising pre-trial litigation strategies and preparation;
  • Mohamed Aboshanab, an Egyptian-qualified registered foreign lawyer who specialises in immigration work, he is looking to build a “next generation travel company” called VISXA to transform the way travellers apply for and obtain visas around the world; and
  • Sonia Hadjadj, a French-qualified lawyer with international experience particularly in-house, most recently at Kingfisher, who “wants to help legal departments make faster data-driven decisions and unlock further value for the business”.

Elani Buchan, venture programme manager at MDR LAB, said: “Legaltech is at a pivotal moment and we at MDR LAB want to step up and support the ecosystem.

“We are seeing the emergence of mission driven founders, entrepreneurs that want to improve how legal services operate, reduce costs and increase access to justice, to those who want decrease lawyer burnout and improve the overall quality of life.”

This is MDR LAB’s fourth year and it is now supporting a wider range of start-ups and working with them throughout the year, rather than restricting entry to one summer cohort.

Since 2017, MDR LAB has worked with 17 companies: becoming customers of seven and investors in four; MDR LAB alumni have raised £28.5m and have a collective valuation of over £100m.

The firm said one of the key insights over the year has been that each business required very different support depending on their stage of development.

As a result, it now offers three distinct programmes: Launch, Improve – for existing businesses wanting to improve and develop their product, similar to the original MDR LAB offering – and Sell, for businesses that are product-ready, with traction in the market, and looking to build revenue.

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