Lawhive aims to triple in size after £9.5m Google funding boost

Proner: Looking to build to tens of thousands of client

Consumer law platform Lawhive aims to triple the number of solicitors in its network to over 300 in only 12 months after raising £9.5m in its latest funding round, led by Google Ventures (GV).

Chief executive Pierre Proner said some of the new funding would be spent on developing Lawhive’s generative artificial intelligence assistant ‘Lawrence’, currently used every day by 70% of the platform’s lawyers.

Lawhive, which raised £1.8m in seed funding in 2022, delivers qualified leads, onboards clients with identity and anti-money laundering checks, enables solicitors to work online and on the phone, and provides secure file-sharing and messaging, invoicing and billing.

Solicitors pay a monthly platform fee based on the volume of work they have billed.

It offers fixed-fee services and claims to be on average 30% cheaper than traditional high-street law firms. It also promises to beat any quote from a law firm by at least 10%.

The £9.5m in new funding brings in GV, the venture capital arm of Google’s owner Alphabet, alongside UK firm Episode 1 Ventures, an existing investor in Lawhive, and its existing angel investors.

The majority of shares are still owned by Lawhive’s co-founders – Mr Proner, chief technology officer Jaime van Oers and Flinn Dolman.

The chief executive said he expected the tripling in solicitor numbers in the next 12 months to come both through those who worked, as consultants, for Lawhive’s subsidiary alternative business structure, Lawhive Legal, and the small law firms – usually with up to three partners – in Lawhive’s network.

Mr Proner said Lawhive also aimed to increase the number of clients it worked with from the “thousands” over the past year (its website says nearly 3,000) to “tens of thousands” over the next 12 months.

Lawhive Legal provides services through the platform in every area of consumer law apart from conveyancing, which is carried out by network law firms.

Three-quarters of Lawhive Legal consultants work only for Lawhive, rather than combining it with work for other consultant-led firms. Mr Proner said around half of the consultants came from fee-share law firms, with the rest previously employed by traditional firms.

From the third quarter of last year, solicitor consultants have been able to bring their own clients to Lawhive and work with them through the platform. From the end of last year, Lawhive moved into the two main areas of consumer law it did not cover – personal injury and medical negligence.

Mr Proner said freelance solicitors, Lawhive’s original focus when it launched in 2021, were now few in number, because of the difficulty they faced in securing reasonable professional indemnity insurance.

Lawhive was now also working with a small number of barristers and chartered legal executives.

“We want to bring the joy back into practising law. People who go into law want to make an impact on society and do good.”

Mr Proner said the ambition for Lawrence was “to support our lawyers – never replace them. This is about augmenting human talent.

“However, humans are not needed for a vast array of repetitive tasks lawyers are being asked to do at the moment. Lawrence can take away the grunt work and free humans to do the high value work.”

Lawrence hit the headlines last year when he scored 74% in part 1 of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam, when the pass mark at the time was just over 50%. Mr Proner said Lawrence hit 81% in his most recent sitting of the exam.

He said Lawrence has moved from non-legal administrative tasks, like file opening and billing, to “basic legal work at the level of a junior or paralegal”.

This included evaluating evidence, matching it against the latest legal information, “proactively reading, assessing and suggesting steps the lawyer might want to take”, and drafting letters, contracts or applications to court.

Vidu Shanmugarajah, partner at GV, added: “Lawhive represents a transformative shift for both lawyers and consumers.

“Through combining a feature-rich platform with groundbreaking AI, Lawhive not only dramatically improves legal workflows but also makes high quality legal advice more accessible and affordable to a broader audience.

“This investment underscores our belief in Lawhive’s potential to redefine the legal industry.”

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