Lawtech start-ups bag multi-million pound investments

Ong: We need to continually educate our clients

LawAdvisor Ventures, a lawtech start-up with software platforms aimed at corporate in-house legal teams has raised $5m (£4m) from big-name Silicon Valley backers associated with Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

Meanwhile, PocketLaw, which aims to provide a one-stop shop for the legal needs of SMEs without needing lawyers much of the time, has secured a $11m Series A investment led by European venture capital firm Atomico, whose portfolio includes the likes of Stripe and Klarna.

LawAdvisor Ventures, which started in Australia and moved to London to be closer to global clients, owns LegalEye and Fibonacci, platforms that launched early last year.

LegalEye’s ambition upon its launch was to become a kind of ‘Google for law’ that brought law firms and in-house legal departments together into an “ecosystem for sharing, collaboration, insights and diversity”.

Fibonacci is a complementary tech product aimed at making communications within legal projects more efficient.

The company claims to have won significant market success since it began, with recurring license revenue of some $2m and clients including Bird & Bird, Simmons & Simmons, Clifford Chance and Barclays.

Existing investor Lars Rasmussen, the founder of Google Maps and former director at Facebook, took part in the latest seed round. Others included Jason Barnwell, associate general counsel at Microsoft, and Ben Davey, former chief executive and founder of Barclays Ventures.

These investors will form an advisory panel with the likes of Norton Rose’s head of legal operations consulting, Stephanie Hamon, and David Kerr, Bird & Bird’s former chief executive.

Speaking to Legal Futures, Brennan Ong, founder and chief executive of LawAdvisor, said the $5m would be used “on expanding our product management team, expanding our team of designers, and also engineers”.

He added that enterprise clients needed a lot of training and support. “It’s not just a case of build, ship and pass it over to the client. We need to continually educate our clients, build up their confidence, and ensure that they’re actually succeeding in the use of our technology.”

LawAdvisor employed around 60 staff, he said. “And we’re growing at around four to five people each month.”

He could see opportunities “on the horizon” for LawAdvisor in contract automation and artificial intelligence, but it made economic sense to consider partnering with existing players in the market.

PocketLaw was launched in Sweden at the start of the pandemic in April 2020 and expanded into the UK last summer. It offers guidance, document generation, company-specific templates and a contract management system.

The system is focused on tackling what PocketLaw calls “the simple, recurring tasks that make up so much of day-to-day legal work”. Lawyers and non-lawyers alike could create bespoke contracts “80% faster and [at] a fraction of the costs of traditional legal services”.

SMEs needing advice from a lawyer in the UK are referred to London-based EBL Miller Rosenfalck. PocketLaw also offers ‘Call & Check’, allowing users to call a lawyer for smaller questions (up to 15 minutes per question), an unlimited number of times each month.

It claims that customers save up to 14 working weeks and up to $200,000 in legal fees a year by using the platform.

PocketLaw raised £3m in three previous funding rounds and says it has had 6,000 clients to date. The funding will go on expanding operations across Europe.

Atomico partner Ben Blume, who is joining PocketLaw’s board, said: “This is the first time we have seen a tool really designed with the needs of business owners in mind, empowering them with access to everything they need in one place, in a world where most teams are still forced to buy multiple fragmented solutions, work in silos or pay high legal fees to outside experts.”

Separately, international law firm Mayer Brown has launched a derivatives product, CAN comply, with Factor, the legal managed services firm that used to be part of Axiom, and global derivatives risk management provider Acadia.

Clients identify the counterparty relationships they would like analysed and all relevant information is shared via a secure digital platform. Factor and Mayer Brown analyse the data , perform cross-validation checks, and provide a certificate that the client can present demonstrating compliance.

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