LawAdvisor is the latest startup aiming to revolutionise legal practices, and with $5m new investment underneath its belt, it has just strengthened its ability to smash efficiency roadblocks for lawyers.
“The law has gained a notorious reputation for being antiquated, burdened by traditional processes and resistant to technology,” Brennan Ong, founder and CEO of LawAdvisor, tells Verdict.
Ong came up with the idea behind LawAdvisor after clerking in the Supreme Court alongside writing his PhD in law. There, he experienced firsthand how outdated practices practices ground the pace of legal processes to halt.
Voicing his dismay about this to the judge he worked alongside, the judge gave him permission to use his background in software engineering to try to fix it. The Department of Business and Innovation backed the project to digitise the court. He then rolled out the project in the Victorian Supreme Court.
“Files no longer had to be manually filed, nor did parties have to wheel truckloads of documents to the courtroom,” Ong says. “Court processes were digitised and automated, which exposed efficiencies that the legal industry was so desperately seeking.”
“This gave me the confidence to believe that I had the skillset to spearhead the legaltech revolution, and apply my skills in creating technology that can drastically transform the practice of law.”
The result was LawAdvisor, which has just picked up its first seed investment round.
Ong describes LawAdvisor’s solution as a “low-code and customisable software” to help “client build powerful business applications that can radically transform how they deliver legal services.”
“Our ambition is to become a kind of ‘Google for law’ – we’re focused on creating a set of configurable capabilities and tools that revolutionise the way law is practised and legal matters are managed,” Ong says.
“We want to make sure lawyers spend their time lawyering and our technology provides them with the tools to help them do just that; speeding up work, boosting efficiency, and meeting the expectations of their clients and key stakeholders by practising in the digital age.”
LawAdvisor bags new investment round
A smattering of angel investors backed the legaltech startup’s $5m seed round. Given Ong’s ambition to build the “Google for law,” it is fitting that Google Maps founder Lars Rasmussen was among the backers.
The former chair and CEO of law firm Orrick Ralph Baxter, Microsoft general manager Jason Barnwell, Barclays Ventures founder Ben Davey, and Gilead Sciences head of legal operations Gary Tully also invested in the round.
“The LawAdvisor team has built something that has huge potential to transform the legal profession,” Davey says. “In an industry that has traditionally been reluctant to embrace new technology and ways of working, the collaborative approach taken to developing solutions to the industry’s trickiest issues has seen the team create something that in a short space of time could become industry standard.”
LawAdvisor will use the investment to expand its services. It has already launched two software as service solutions for the legal profession: LegalEye and Fibonacci. These solutions are designed to make the collaboration between internal and external legal teams.
“[We] will continue to expand several of our teams in order to be in the position to innovate alongside our clients, the legal industry generally, and in order to future-proof our products and our company,” Ong says.
Not the same as the other guys
LawAdvisor arguably fits into the regulation technology, or regtech, industry. Players in this market segment wants to automate companies’ compliance challenges. Ventures in the regtech industry covers cybersecurity, fraud-fighting, risk assessment, digital verification and legaltech.
It is big business. Since the 2008 recession, lawmakers have introduced tighter regulations to avoid another financial meltdown. Companies have, as a result, turned to regtech ventures for solutions to automate and streamline compliance.
Investors have coalesced to industry as a result of the skyrocketing interest. Regtech companies raised around $18.9bn in 2021, more than doubling the $7.8bn raised in 2020, according to a recent report from FinTech Global.
A new study from Juniper Research estimates that the global spend on regtech solutions will exceed $204bn, meaning it would account for over 50% of all regulatory compliance spend for the first time. The study estimated that $68bn will be spent on regtech solutions in 2022.
In short, there’s a lot of competition in this space. However, Ong is bullish about LawAdvisor’s ability to stand out from the crowd.
“The legaltech market is crowded in the sense that there are more and more solutions being developed everyday: it is not crowded in the sense that these tools have become commonplace,” he says. “Lawyers still far too heavily rely on word, outlook as their key tech offerings. Besides that, there are many point solutions that do exist, but they have struggled to find real world use.”
The LawAdvisor CEO says that the startup stands out from the crowd because of its “rigorous discovery processes with industry leaders to gain a deep understanding of the key issues and what change lawyers are looking for” and has “developed document management capabilities” that “can be configured like building blocks to create solutions tailored to specific needs of the teams using them.”
“Our secret-sauce and magic formula is combining these capabilities, after intimate and deep involvement from our end-users, and piecing them together to form products with particular use cases in mind,” Ong argues. “This is how both LegalEye and Fibonacci came to be developed. As we uncover new problems and expose new opportunities when confidence by our end-users increases, we believe we will continue to expose new product verticals and opportunities.”