Law technology, or lawtech, describes the suite of technological tools that are being used to assist the legal profession. The majority of lawtech companies utilise AI technologies to power their systems, most commonly in the form of machine learning and natural language processing. Whilst it seems unlikely that technology will ever fully replace all functions performed by lawyers – as a human layer of decision-making is required or desired in the provision of legal advice – it can still provide lawyers with valuable support. For instance, routine checks and tasks can be automated, such as contract management and drafting, leaving more time for lawyers to exercise their skill and expertise, with administrative burdens completed.
In this post we unveil some of the brightest lawtech startups in the UK. We have profiled two of the largest funded startups in each of the seed, venture and growth stages of evolution, to provide an overview of how lawtechs are progressing across each formative stage of the company life cycle. As expected, seed stage lawtechs have raised significantly less than their venture and growth stage counterparts, as they attempt to consolidate their business and grow. Each description provides key information about the company – namely the amount of funds raised, their founded year, location and other methods of growth that they’ve undertaken (excluding equity fundraising) – whilst also providing an insight into how these lawtechs are attempting to disrupt the legal industry today.
Funds raised: £2.55m
Founded: October 2017
Other methods of growth: Accelerator Attendance; Grant Received
Genie AI has created ‘SuperDrafter,’ a machine learning tool designed for law firms and in-house legal teams. The SuperDrafter utilises Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning capabilities to predict the legal language suitable for lawyers, thus assisting them to draft and negotiate contracts more quickly. Genie AI attended Entrepreneur First accelerator in 2017 and received a £793k grant from Innovate UK in April 2019.
SuperDrafter offers a range of features to simplify the contract drafting process. Its ‘Clause Recommendation’ tool enables thousands of previous precedents to be easily viewed and recommended when drafting similar clauses. Clauses can also be searched by client, sector and other smart filters, with machine learning models able to learn and tag clauses accordingly. The ‘Automatic Review’ tool creates checklists which automatically ensure that every document adheres to company or client standards. ‘Document Management’ ensures that all documents are stored, searched and categorised in one accessible place, which can easily be integrated with open APIs.
Funds raised: £1.96m
Founded: November 2016
Location: Watford; England
WYM Legal is a conveyancing firm that has developed proprietary technology, including a bespoke app, to help home buyers and sellers track every stage of the conveyancing process. WYM Legal’s expertise comes from their specialist property lawyers, known as licensed conveyancers. It is also regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers and received a commendation at the 2018 LFS Conveyancing Awards in the ‘Most Innovative Use of Technology’ category.
WYM Legal’s app enables users to track the progress of their case in real-time, enabling a chase-free conveyancing process, without constant updates being sought from conveyancers. WYM Legal’s case management software also has 24 hour access to customer files and provides live notifications and status updates. Its ‘Headline Feature’ pushes live notifications to customer’s phones every 72 hours. All users are also assigned a dedicated conveyancer who is responsible for a customer’s case and acts as a personal point of contact for any issues that arise. WYM Legal charges a fixed fee for its services, with a ‘No Move No Fee’ policy implemented too.
Funds raised: £11.3m
Founded: October 2011
Other methods of growth: Accelerator Attendance; High Growth List
Apperio has developed a legal spend management platform that is seamlessly integrated into law firms’ existing software. The Apperio platform is mainly designed for companies with in-house legal teams and gives these companies clarity on how much they are spending, or going to be spending, on legal fees. A key feature of Apperio’s platform is that its interface tracks billed and unbilled hours in real-time, giving companies immediate insight into their legal spending. The platform is currently integrated with over 200 global law firms, with £550m of legal fees tracked through Apperio.
Apperio’s platform has four main functions: Track, Analyse, React and Budget. The Track function monitors legal matters across all of a company’s law firms, allowing them to see how much they are spending (and projected to spend) on legal fees. Analyse provides an accessible overview of a company’s entire legal spend, allowing companies to benchmark data across all of their law firms or hone in on individual firms. React constantly monitors key metrics and alerts companies when they are approaching a predetermined budget threshold. This enables companies to proactively manage their legal expenses and prevent excessive spending. Budget adds to the spend management flexibility of companies, enabling them to set budgets for individual matters and compare this budget with actual costs.
Funds raised: £7.98m
Founded: July 2015
Other methods of growth: High-growth list
Farewill provides an online platform for writing personalised and legally-binding wills. It utilises smart technology to provide a simple and quick solution to death planning. Farewill has a team of over 50 employees and has secured major national partnerships with organisations across the charity, insurance, and mortgage industries.
Farewill launched its Probate feature in early 2019 and its Cremation feature very recently. Farewill’s will-writing service is £90 (£140 for couples) and consists of three steps. Firstly, customers must answer a series of questions online to create their will. The will is then checked by Farewill’s legal experts with approval given within 5 days. Upon approval, the will is printed and signed in front of two witnesses to make it legally binding. Farewill also provides probate services, submitting applications within 7 days and posting grants of probate to customers. Its most recent cremation service involves conducting a private cremation and delivery of the deceased’s ashes for a fixed price of £980.
Funds raised: £20.9m
Founded: November 2015
Other methods of growth: High-growth list
Luminance provides an artificial intelligence platform that helps lawyers review documents. Luminance is designed for use by lawyers in law firms and in-house legal teams and offers a variety of different document review features to speed up the review process. The platform utilises machine learning and pattern recognition technology which reads, understands and learns from the interactions between lawyers and documents. Based on what is learnt, the technology can identify and pinpoint potential warning signs within a document, which may be missed in a manual review.
Luminance provides six core features which help lawyers in their document review process. ‘Anomaly Detection’ instantly finds linguistic anomalies or outliers, such as abnormal wording or additional unnecessary clauses. ‘Data Visualisation’ provides lawyers with an overview of data to help allocate resources more efficiently. ‘Document and Clause Clustering’ combines documents and clauses together, so that deviations from standards can be determined. ‘Streamlined Collaboration’ allows lawyers to collaborate with legal teams across different jurisdictions and offices. Luminance is also language agnostic, meaning it can learn and perform in any language.
Funds raised: £7.58m
Founded: August 2012
Other methods of growth: Accelerator attendance; High-growth list
ClauseMatch has developed a platform which enables policies, procedures and controls to be easily organised and monitored. The platform is especially targeted towards global financial institutions and helps them to address regulatory changes by updating existing policies and procedures. As such, ClauseMatch is used by legal, compliance, finance and operations teams.
ClauseMatch offers three main functions. Its ‘Policy Management’ feature enables policies and procedures to be managed and tracked in real time, so that organisations can instantly see which of their existing policies need to be updated (and in which jurisdictions) to ensure compliance. The platform also provides organisations with clear evidence of their governance and compliance, helping them when being audited or questioned by regulators. ClauseMatch’s ‘AI Content Mapping’ tool helps to automatically identify clauses in existing policies and procedures that have become out of date or areas which contain policy gaps and need to be addressed. Its ‘Policy Portal’ provides a central repository of an organisation’s updated policies and procedures, helping to ensure that all members of an organisation are aware and up-to-date with new controls.