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Saturday, 14 July 2018

The UK's leading lawtech startups

The UK is one of the world's leading legal centres, with more arbitrations taking place in London than any other city. Britain's legal sector's global appeal is partly thanks to the popularity of English law.
Despite its strong reputation overseas and valuation at almost £26 billion a year, the UK legal industry is in many ways outdated, inaccessible and expensive. That's something a number of startups hope to change, using automation, data, artificial intelligence and other technologies to make the legal process faster, more efficient and open to more players.
The UK has seen an explosion in the number of lawtech startups in recent years. Here are a few of the most notable.

1. Luminance

Emily Foges, Luminance CEO © Financial Times Live
Emily Foges, Luminance CEO © Financial Times Live
Launched in 2015, Luminance describes itself as 'the AI platform for the legal profession', used for due diligence, compliance, insurance and contract management.
Its proprietary AI uses a mix of computer vision, probability statistics and machine learning to rifle through reams of documents, identifying information far more rapidly than a human could. It counts 10 of the global top 100 law firms among its customers, along with three of the 'Big Four' consultancies.
Luminance has raised $13 million in funding so far from Invoke Capital, a tech investment fund founded by Mike Lynch, law firm Slaughter and May and venture capital firm Talis Capital.

2. Libryo

Cofounders Garth Watson, Malcom Gray and Peter Flynn © Metro Daily Nigeria
Cofounders Garth Watson, Malcom Gray and Peter Flynn © Metro Daily Nigeria
Libryo describes its product as 'SaaS for regulatory law': a tool that allows any person in any organisation to understand the legal obligations at any place. Cofounder Malcom Gray describes it as a solution that lets users answer the question: "what does the law require my business to do here and now?"
The startup was founded in 2015 and raised £1 million in a seed round in 2017. The three founders – Garth Watson, Malcom Gray and Peter Flynn – are all South African but Libryo's office is in London.

3. Lexoo

© BlinkList
© BlinkList
Lexoo provides online access to a vetted international network of lawyers. It acts as a marketplace, letting companies and legal teams compare and hire lawyers, who are given ratings for their work and are incentivised to compete for business. The lawyers on the platform are typically former big firm lawyers who now work on a lower overhead basis, Lexoo explains.
It was founded in June 2014 with offices in London. Lexoo has raised £1.6 million across three funding rounds so far. It was founded by CEO Daniel van Binsbergen, who worked for over five years at international law firm De Brauw, and CTO Chris O'Sullivan, who has worked in numerous software engineering roles.

4. CrowdJustice

Founder Julia Salasky © UKTN
Founder Julia Salasky © UKTN
CrowdJustice is a crowdfunding platform for public interest litigation. The startup selects public interest cases and invites the public to fund them. Founder Julia Salasky launched CrowdJustice after a career working as a lawyer at Linklaters, a legal aid clinic and the United Nations.
The platform is free to use, but for cases that meet their initial target, CrowdJustice charges a three percent administrative fee. All funds raised are transferred directly to the defendant's lawyer.
CrowdJustice was famously used to fund 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 Trump.
The startup expanded to the US in 2017. It has raised $2 million from investors thus far.

5. Alacrity

© iStock/cnythzl
© iStock/cnythzl
Alacrity says its mission is to 'create technologies which enhance the relationship between corporates and law firms to improve service delivery, reduce costs and manage relationships more efficiently'.
Its web-based platform delivers clearly scoped instructions, identification of relevant expertise, price transparency, monitoring and feedback, aimed at ensuring a successful outcome for both firm and client, according to chief executive officer Nilema Bhakta-Jones.
The company was founded in 2016 by Christopher Thurn and is headquartered in London.

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