It’s almost impossible these days for legal professionals to operate without the aid of technologies such as automation, data, and AI. The lawtech movement has expanded rapidly across the sector, making legal processes faster and more efficient, reducing operating costs, and making legal services more accessible to those who need them.
The legal industry is experiencing a shift in mindset with in-house lawyers under pressure to do more with less and increasingly questioning the established practices and fee structure of the big city law firms.
Lexoo began as an online marketplace for lawyers and is evolving into a ‘new law’ company, providing bespoke and tech-enabled teams of former big law lawyers typically on a fixed-fee basis. Founded in 2014 by Daniel van Binsbergen, a former lawyer at De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, and Chris O’Sullivan, a developer, last October Lexoo closed a $4.4 million Series A financing round led by Earlybird, with investors including Ned Staple, General Counsel at Zoopla.
Lexoo now has a network of over 1,000 lawyers covering 65 countries delivering work at around 50% of the cost of a traditional law firm. Lexoo lawyers are typically former big firm lawyers with at least six years’ commercial law experience and are individually vetted to ensure quality.
As well as being the alternative platform of choice for leading disruptors such as Monzo, Transferwise and Revolut, Lexoo is increasingly being used by major enterprises and is on the legal panel of a number of corporates including Vodafone and Travelodge.
“In-house lawyers are open to working with alternative legal services providers across an increasingly wide range of work,” says CEO van Binsbergen. “We’re also benefiting from the rise of the legal operations manager, which is forcing businesses to prioritize the effectiveness of their legal dollars over legacy relationships.”
Unfairness in the UK justice system has meant that it doesn’t work for everyone. In 2015 that prompted lawyer Julia Salasky to leave the security of her job to create a new type of access to justice and launched CrowdJustice, a crowdfunding platform for public interest litigation.
As a commercial litigator at Linklaters, where she did a lot of pro bono work, Salasky had seen at first hand how difficult it was for ordinary people to access legal services.
“In short, legal teams and clients now have a funding option where, for a lot of people, there used to be a dead end,” says Salasky. “What CrowdJustice offers is an opportunity to bring people together and take on the fight.”
The startup selects public interest cases and invites the public to fund them. Through the CrowdJustice platform people can raise funds for their legal matters, and build a community of support as they move through the legal system.
Some of the most famous cases involving CrowdJustice, which expanded to the U.S. in 2017, have included a legal challenge to establish that the UK’s parliament must vote on the outcome of Brexit, and in another case to fund Stormy Daniels’ legal costs against President Donald Trump.
One of the biggest challenges for legal professionals is coping with high volumes of routine legal work that can have a negative impact on work-life balance. InCloudCounsel is a lawtech startup that provides remote, flexible work opportunities for freelance lawyers and manages routine legal work.
Founded in 2014 by three friends, lawyer Ben Levi, management consultant Troy Pospisil, and software engineer Lane Lillquist, InCloudCounsel has introduced a gig economy-based model of legal work, incorporating technologies such as AI, automation and machine learning.
It frees up large companies from the negotiation and management of routine legal work, such as NDAs and vendor contracts.
“We do this by combining a curated network of experienced freelance attorneys with our end-to-end software platform that’s backed by AI and machine learning,” says Levi.
Implemented across hundreds of companies InCloudCounsel has created hundreds of work opportunities for corporate attorneys wanting a flexible yet steady remote work arrangement; a concept that’s nearly unheard of in corporate law.
Earlier this year InCloudCounsel opened an office in London and plans to open its first office in Asia-Pacific by the end of 2019.
As a lawyer, serial entrepreneur and customer of legal services for many years, Merlie Calvert experienced the struggle of finding key-information and materials needed to thrive as a business and became obsessed with fixing it. In 2018 she launched Farillio.
She says: “We built an online ‘cookbook’, stuffed with comprehensive recipes that meet the everyday objectives that small businesses experience, from help with HR and handling complaints, to harnessing IP and much more. We dropped those into a Google Docs-style, collaborative environment that’s pre-populated with the ingredients to deliver on those objectives.”
Shortlisted in the U.K. Startups 100 list in 2019, Farillio’s solution for democratizing legal and business services for SMEs, empowering them to solve everyday business problems.
Users can access ‘how-to’ video tutorials, checklists, infographics, and curated templates, plus experts on a pay-as-you-go basis is extra help is needed via the platform’s user-friendly technology.
“We’re a springboard to business success and a safety net if problems arise,” says Calvert.
Farillio has raised more than £1.5 million ($1.8 million) from Lord Stanley Fink and other angel investors.