3 Legal Start-Ups I’m Watching This August
From Zach Abramowitz on Above the Law
Last month I published my first list of “start-ups that I’m watching.” I hear from a bunch of companies, and I don’t get to write about as many of them as I would like. That said, I like to introduce lawyers to new tech and the best time to do that is in the start-up’s early stages. Start-ups need the feedback from lawyers to get their product right and future-minded lawyers can take advantage of the offerings provided by new start-ups, some of whom will offer great deals in order to get their first customers. I’ve been hearing from a lot of different start-ups this summer, and these are a few that have gotten my attention.
1. Deftr. If you are a corporate lawyer, then chances are that you have worked on or been tasked with building org charts. Building these charts is a clunky process that people are either doing in Word or with pencil and paper. You then send the org chart to the tax attorneys because they are the only ones who seem to understand what they’re looking at and give their feedback as to whether the structure will pose any tax issues. Deftr, which received a Y Combinator fellowship, is bringing org charts into 2016. Lawyers and accountants can use Deftr to build the org charts using natural language e.g. “A Delaware LLC that owns an opco, a Florida LP” will draw the actual chart for you. Ultimately, Deftr’s goal is to be able to use its artificial intelligence to compare the org charts against the IRS code and get relevant insights. I found out about Deftr on Bob Ambrogi’s blog and, having built these charts myself as an associate, was instantly a fan.
2. Doxly. Corporate closings, especially on big M&A deals, can be an anxiety ridden nightmare. Maintaining checklists and making sure you have signature pages can make lawyering feel just like the secretarial admin work that has given legal a bad reputation. What if there was a seamless way to track the transaction from opening checklists to closing binders and remove some of the anxiety along the way? Enter Doxly, the brain child of former partner Haley Altman, who left her Midwest firm to start the company. Doxly is early stage but already has some meaningful traction. There is definitely a need for a product like Doxly, the question will be whether lawyers can be dragged off their current transaction management habits into a more streamlined system. Haley is betting on it.
3. SimpleLegal. SimpleLegal, a Y Combinator portfolio, is not quite as early stage as the other two companies on this list, and it has been on my radar for a while now. In the great “Salesforcization” of legal (more on this trend next week), law firms and legal departments are looking for simple cloud based platforms that allow them to turn the legal process into an assembly line. Clio is the biggest name in practice management for firms, but SimpleLegal wants to be the CRM for in-house counsel to manage their practice and their relationships with outside counsel. SimpleLegal is also able to provide the in-house counsel with insights on how they are being billed by their outside counsel. SimpleLegal is touting its product not only as a way to streamline the in-house counsel’s work flow, but also to save on your company’s legal spend.