Start-up snapshots

The In-House Lawyer profiles some of the start-ups bringing a fresh perspective to the legal tech industry



Daniel van Binsbergen, Lexoo, LB282, May 2018
Daniel van Binsbergen, Lexoo
Founded: 2012 (as Legal Tender)
Team size: 17
Investment raised: £3.4m
Leaders: Chief executive Nicholas d’Adhemar
Key clients: Dentons, Network Rail, Deliveroo, Octopus Investments

‘The technology I interfaced with as a lawyer was just woeful, I remember at the time some of the tech was ten to 15 years old, and when I go back there it’s still the same stuff,’ Apperio founder Nicholas d’Adhemar recalls. His painful memories inspired the company’s platform, which monitors information related to legal matters to give corporate legal departments real-time transparency on legal fees. ‘We often talk about running your legal department like a business within your company, and people are starting to do that. The number one way of doing that is going out there and looking
at technology.’

Founded: 2016
Team size: Ten
Investment raised: £500,000-plus
Leaders: Directors Eliot Benzecrit and David Howorth
Key clients: FTSE 250 companies, tier 1 investment backs, top 50 law firms

In a space full of tech jargon, one could be forgiven for being sceptical of Eliot Benzecrit’s claim that there is a ‘big difference’ between Avvoka and the legacy players. However, after spending time around his contagious enthusiasm and obvious intelligence, you realise he might be onto something. Avvoka acts as a live-negotiation and analytics tool for contracts, or ‘Google Docs for contracts’, allowing counterparties to negotiate in real-time. Benzecrit is a former lawyer who is one of many of those leaving firms to innovate: ‘You’ve got a lot of disenchanted ex-solicitors who want to do something else.’

Founded: 2014
Team size: Eight
Investment raised: €300,000
Leaders: Chief executive Pieter van der Hoeven (pictured)
Key clients: Hogan Lovells, DLA Piper, Clifford Chance, CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang

Peter van der Hoeven, Clocktimizer, LB282, April 2018
In a space with more solutions than problems, the start-up world can be disorienting. But Clocktimizer has a refreshingly simple approach, acting as an intelligent timekeeper and time planner in law. It is run by well-regarded chief executive and co-founder Pieter van der Hoeven, another former lawyer, and uses time data to provide more transparent pricing. Clocktimizer helped Hogan Lovells analyse time cards that previously would have taken weeks in just 36 seconds. ‘If there’s a transparency between what the lawyers do and the client’s expectations, it will make for a more efficient legal market.’

Founded: 2016
Team size: Six full-time, three part-time
Investment raised: £120,000
Revenue: Annualised six monthly growth rate 155%
Leaders: Chief executive Mary Bonsor and chief technology officer James Moore
Key clients: Magic Circle and top 50 UK law firms and FTSE 350 companies

‘Anywhere there’s a legal team we want to be able to help,’ says F-Lex chief executive Mary Bonsor, one of the few female founders in the scene, and another ex-lawyer. With 80 clients, F-Lex is matching Bonsor’s enthusiasm – shared by early investor and former Clifford Chance managing partner Tony Williams. F-Lex acts as an online platform that matches paralegals with law firms and general counsel on a short-term basis. Bonsor describes the challenge: ‘As a lawyer you’re terrified of risk, and in a start-up, you have to fail and you have to fail quickly.’

Founded: 2016
Team size: 12
Investment raised: $2.75m
Leaders: Co-founders Richard Mabey and Pavel Kovalevich
Clients: Deliveroo, Estée Lauder, Nested

‘I know you told me leaving Freshfields was a terrible idea, to do this weird job you can’t understand and can’t tell your friends about it, but I just won an award,’ Juro co-founder Richard Mabey recently boasted to his mother. Mabey’s words reflect the great professional risk in creating a start-up. However, it might have taken quitting Freshfields for Mabey to start bridging the chasm between law firms’ professed appetite for innovation and their more cautious everyday practice. By aiding the creation and signing of contracts through an AI-enabled workflow, Juro looks to make good on its mission statement of making in-house teams more data-driven.

Founded: 2015
Team size: <10
Revenue: 45% growth month-on-month
Leaders: Founder Anthony Seale and head of business development Daniel Porus
Key clients: Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills

‘It’s one thing to create technology that’s useful for lawyers, it’s a completely different thing for lawyers to actually use it,’ observes Legatics’ Daniel Porus. Legatics is a live deal platform, and Porus feels making it easy to use is essential to achieving the latter. Founder Anthony Seale is sympathetic to lawyers, and understands that for tech to be adopted, it has to be accessible: ‘It needs to be something a lawyer can look at and say, “This is me, this is how I work’’.’

Founded: 2014
Team size: 14
Investment raised: £1.5m
Revenue: £3m gross revenue annually
Leaders: Chief executive Daniel van Binsbergen (pictured, top) and chief technology officer Chris O’Sullivan
Key clients: WorldRemit, Vice, Asos, Travelodge, Babylon Health, Faction Skis, and more than 3,000 SMEs and corporates

‘A lot of lawyers, especially corporate lawyers, aren’t enjoying their work. They might like lawyering but they don’t like the way they have to do it,’ says Lexoo chief executive Daniel van Binsbergen. Lexoo works by posting legal matters and within one to two business days three quotes from experienced lawyers will be chosen, before the client can compare and choose the right lawyer. It has a database of about 750 lawyers in more than 40 countries.

Founded: 2016
Team size: 11
Leaders: Chief executive Ryan Alshak (pictured)
Key clients: Mishcon de Reya

‘I can’t even tell you the visceral reaction I would have when it came to timesheets,’ says Ping chief executive Ryan Alshak. Informed by his two and a bit years as a lawyer, Alshak spearheads Ping, a labour of love which recently saw him turn down his dream job as an in-house lawyer at the NBA basketball franchise LA Clippers. ‘This is the easiest no I’ve ever had to give,’ he told a friend. Ping is an automated timekeeping device that captures detailed time data. Ping then provides analytics and could be law’s best hope for a timesheet-free world.

Orbital Witness
Founded: 2017
Team size: Five
Investment raised: £170,000 (including grants)
Revenue: N/A – beginning first pilots
Leaders: Co-founders Edmond Boulle, Francesco Liucci and
Will Pearce.

When Orbital Witness co-founder Edmond Boulle first entered Mishcon de Reya’s MDR LAB, he identified the problem he wanted to solve: ‘The thing that struck us as was you couldn’t see anybody’s desk. Every real estate lawyer’s desk, we worked with them for ten weeks, about 50 of them, was just covered with paper.’ By providing data-driven site analysis featuring satellite imagery, Orbital Witness looks to identify legal risk in property transactions. It’s not quite Star Wars, but it could be as close as the legal profession ever gets.