Top 10 Lawtechs: Innovative Solutions Emerging in the UK
Farzana Haque, 23 February 2023
The legal services market in the UK is the second largest in the world. This means that over the past few years, the emergence of innovative legal technologies, also known as lawtech, comes as no surprise.
Here, we explore the UK lawtech scene in more detail—looking at everything from online dispute resolution to artificial intelligence (AI) driven due diligence—and profile the top 10 companies raising the most equity investment in the field.
What is lawtech and how is it disrupting the legal sector?
Very simply, Lawtech refers to the use of technology within the legal sector. The uses of legal technology vary greatly from document automation for lawyers to legal bots offering counsel. According to an analysis by The Law Society of England and Wales, the most established lawtechs in the UK currently target eDiscovery and legal research.
The appetite to keep the UK as a hub for the legal services sector is evident in the government’s backing of LawtechUK, a work programme established to deliver the digital transformation of the legal sector. Set up in 2019 as a part of Tech Nation with an initial investment of £2.00m from the Ministry of Justice, the initiative received a further £4.00m investment in August 2022. Among LawtechUK’s programmes is the Lawtech Sandbox, a research and development programme for entrepreneurs to test products and services.
Whilst tech is already transforming this sector, there are still plenty of opportunities for further progression. Two spaces in particular for legal innovation are addressing the legal needs of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and fair and affordable access to legal services.
Top lawtech startups in the UK
Lawtech is a fairly young sector, with 108 active high-growth companies, of which 40% are in the seed change. By comparison, in the wider high-growth ecosystem, we find just 22% of businesses currently operating at the seed stage.
Much like other tech sectors, the majority of lawtech companies (58%) are located in London. Interestingly, accelerators are a very common method of growth in this sector with 44% of companies attending an accelerator compared to 17% within the wider environment. Indeed, eight of the 10 businesses listed below have attended an accelerator.
Here, we looked at the active high-growth law tech companies headquartered in the UK and profiled the top 10 companies in order of equity investment secured to date. Read on to find out how they’re using innovative technologies to disrupt the legal sector.
Year founded: 2007
Funds raised: £251m
Founded in 2007, Patsnap is the oldest lawtech in our ranking. It’s an AI tool that uses machine-learning tech to analyse intellectual property (IP) data, providing data points such as patent expiry dates, licensing and litigation. The software is used by not only legal professionals but also research and development teams and those in the life sciences sector.
The company has raised £251m over four fundraising rounds to date, raising the vast majority of this in its latest round, in March 2021. Patsnap took £216m ($300m) in follow-on investments from CITIC Capital, Sequoia Capital China and Vertex Growth as well as first-time funding from Softbank Vision Fund and Tencent. On top of receiving equity investment, the company has also achieved a 20% scaleup as well as featuring on the Fast Track Tech Track 100 list in 2018. It has also expanded to nine locations across Asia, Europe and America.
Year founded: 2015
Funds raised: £30.4m
Farewill is an online platform specialising in will-writing and probate application help by blending technology with legal services. Its goal is to use the digital world to try to make death a little bit simpler to deal with.
Since its incorporation in 2015, Farewill has featured in five high-growth lists including The FinTech50 in 2019, London Tech 50 in 2020 and Lazard T100 European Venture Growth Index in 2021. The company has also attended the Upscale accelerator managed by Tech Nation in 2020. To date, it has received £30.4m in equity funding across six rounds. Notable investors in the company include Augmentum Fintech, Crowdcube, Highland Europe, JamJar Investments and Kindred Capital VC. Farewill also received two grants early on in its journey in 2015 and 2016.
Year founded: 2015
Funds raised: £22.7m
Juro is a contract platform that aims to make contracts frictionless and accessible using automation. Its a legal tool that helps businesses and solicitors save time on contract negotiation, tracking, approval, signing and storing. Juro counts corporations such as Deliveroo, Trustpilot and AngelList among their clients.
Soon after its incorporation in 2015, Juro attended Seedcamp accelerator in 2016. Since then, it has also attended the Mayor’s International Business Programme accelerator. The company has grown through equity funding, raising £22.7m across four equity rounds. In its most recent fundraising in January 2022, Juro raised £16.9m to expand in both the US and Europe. In this round, Juro received follow-on investments from Point Nine Capital, Seedcamp, Union Square Ventures and angel investors as well as a first-time investment from Eight Roads Venture.
Year founded: 2015
Funds raised: £21.6m
Established in April 2015, Legl hopes to facilitate the transformation of the UK legal sector by digitalising and automating operational work. Its platform provides solutions within three main roles: payments, risk and compliance, and client onboarding.
Like others on this list, Legl has also attended the Upscale accelerator. In addition, the company has received £21.6m in equity investment over four rounds. Its first equity round took place just under a year after its incorporation in January 2016, in which it raised £450k. In its most recent equity round in May 2022, the company took £14.6m in order to expand to international markets, increase its hiring and enhance workflows. In this round, Octopus Ventures contributed a follow-on investment of £2.69m. Other notable investors in the company include Backed VC, Samaipata Ventures, Venrock and First Round Capital
Year founded: 2015
Funds raised: £20.9m
Luminance has developed a software platform that uses AI to process documents, enabling them to be easily reviewed and analysed. This legal tech aims to make the delivery of legal services faster and more efficient for lawyers by supporting them through automated contract drafting, due diligence and condensing eDiscovery. Amongst its clients are multinational corporations such as KMPG and Dentons as well as the superstore chain, Tesco.
Since its inception in 2015, Luminance has met a whooping five out of eight of our high-growth triggers. In addition to achieving a 20% scaleup, the company has been named in The Queen’s Awards for Innovation in 2019. It has also attended the Future Fifty accelerator in 2021. Equity funding has certainly contributed to its growth, with Luminance receiving £20.9m in investments across four rounds. Notable investors in the company include Invoke Capital, Talis Capital and law firm Slaughter and May, all of whom have followed up with their investments.
Year founded: 2017
Funds raised: £19.5m
Thirdfort is the developer of a software platform that automates ID and document verification, anti-money laundering (AML) and Source of Funds (SoF) checks. The company serves primarily law firms and estate agents, aiming to protect big transactions, help with compliance and save time.
The three main methods of growth for Thirdfort have been accelerator attendance, equity investments and grants. Soon after its establishment, the company attended two accelerators, both in 2018: MDR LAB and Geovation PropTech Programme. Since then, it has also received £19.5m over nine equity fundraising rounds and £337k across three grants, all from Innovate UK. Notable investors in the company include Element Ventures, Future Fund, Breega Capital, Chestertons, Grosvenor Hill Ventures, Pepper Advantage and Knight Frank.
Year founded: 2013
Funds raised: £18.7m
Incorporated in 2013, InfoTrack UK aims to facilitate the digital transformation of conveyancing. It develops a range of tools to help solicitors perform conveyancing tasks such as local authority searches, verification of identity, funds and land registry checks. In its latest news, the company has made product updates to its AML check, which is now able to extract data directly from the verification of identity process.
InfoTrack has raised £18.7m across five equity rounds, all five of which took place within the space of two years (2017 and 2019). Its most recent round closed in August 2019 and the company took £147k. Investors in the business have not been named. The company has also achieved 20% scaleup status.
Year founded: 2011
Funds raised: £17.0m
Apperio is a budgeting software for teams in corporates, private funds and law firms. Notable clients for the company include magic circle law firm, Allen and Overy, Network Rail and the FSCS. In its latest news, Apperio wrote earlier this month on Linkedin that it has partnered with software development company Aderant in a strategic move to develop its product.
Much like the other companies on this ranking, Apperio has attended accelerators (Upscale and Seedcamp) and featured on high-growth lists (Startups 100 in 2016 and 2017). It has additionally raised £17.0m in equity funding across seven rounds. Its most recent round concluded just last month, raising £5.75m to put towards accelerating expansion into the US market. Investment in this round came from Hambro Perks, IQ Capital Fund, Molten Ventures, Notion Capital and Volution. Other notable investors include NextLaw Labs and Walking Ventures.
Year founded: 2016
Funds raised: £12.0m
ThoughtRiver develops contract-checking software, calling it a Contract Acceleration Platform (CAP). Its platform reviews contracts, flagging any legal issues as well as offering space for negotiations. Notable clients of the company include Deloitte, Shoosmiths and G4S.
Having spun out of law firm, Taylor Vinters—which completed a merger with Mishcon de Reya LLP last month—in 2013, ThoughtRiver has raised £12.0m in equity capital across six rounds. Its last fundraising round closed in September 2020, amidst the pandemic. Among its investors are the Cambridge Capital Group, Crane Ventures, Entrée Capital, LocalGlobe, Octopus Ventures and SyndicateRoom. The company is also the recipient of two Innovate UK grants worth a total of £522k- and has also attended the Upscale accelerator.
Year founded: 2011
Funds raised: £10.9m
Clarilis operates a software platform which performs deep automation of legal documents to streamline the process of contract drafting. This lawtech is used in work programmes within banking and finance and real estate as well as the legal sector. Among its clients are PwC, Travers Smith and the National Grid.
Although Clarilis was founded back in 2011, the company has experienced rapid growth recently. Starting in 2018, the company has raised £10.9m across four rounds. Notable investors include Gresham House Ventures, NVM Private Equity and Northern VCT. It has also attended the Slaughter and May Collaborate accelerator in 2019 and achieved 20% scaleup status.
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