Leaving a well-paying, respectful position at a lawfirm to start transforming the legal sector is not an everyday-phenomenon. After Daniel van Binsbergen, the CEO and Co-founder of Lexoo, realized the need of an innovative platform to exchange the oldschool way, the mission was clear: making legal processes faster and more efficient. But what are the challenges, the solutions and the steps one after another to build up one of the most potential lawtech startup globally?
You studied and worked in both the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and now are the CEO of Lexoo, a company based in London, aiming to revolutionize legal, worldwide. Quite an international career – did you always plan to work globally?
Growing up I moved around quite a bit as my father was a Dutch naval officer. As a result I never really had created deep roots anywhere, which has made it easier to move around myself and work in different environments. But it wasn’t a premediated plan, it just happened!
You worked at De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek as a finance and M&A lawyer, which is a respected, well-paying position, with the potential to become a partner at a biglaw firm. In other words, it has all the things that most law students hope for when they are studying hard. What was your motivation to leave this job?
Although I enjoyed being a lawyer, I felt that after 5-6 years my learning curve started to flatten a bit.
I also felt there was a lack of innovation in the market and I often found myself daydreaming about solutions.
Finally, I found it fascinating how innovation was changing markets around the world, and thought it’d be exciting to see if I could be part of that movement by starting my own company.
What was the business need that you initially wanted to solve?
During my time as a lawyer I noticed that most firms still operate the same old school business models, based on the billable hour. This isn’t great for clients (very unpredictable and substantial legal bills), but also isn’t particularly fun for lawyers – I certainly never enjoyed accounting for my time in 6 minute increments!
In addition, I noticed that an increasing number of senior lawyers left larger law firms for lifestyle reasons. That meant that there was a growing group of high quality lawyers entering the marketplace, all willing to work on a lower overhead basis.That inspired me to start Lexoo, to offer businesses and in-house legal teams easy access to this relatively new resource of independent high quality lawyers. This way, they’d get the same quality legal work done, but at a lower cost.
How did you start Lexoo, and what did your product look like when you first showed it to potential customers and lawyers?
We launched the service in a very lean way. We initially focused on smaller businesses. The product was very manual in the beginning. Clients would go to our website, submit their legal need, and we would email them 3 lawyer profiles with quotes. Clients would then email us back with which lawyer they wanted to talk to. This way we could launch relatively quickly and learn on-the-fly which tech to build first. Based on the initial results I was able to raise some investment too.
What does your company focus on today and what is Lexoo’s mission?
Today our clients are predominantly in-house legal teams at corporates. Typically high-growth companies with international legal needs. We offer those clients a seamless way to get their legal work done to a higher standard, more quickly and more cost effectively. We do this by combining Expertise (great quality lawyers – we currently have over 1000 lawyers in 70 countries), Process (ensuring the lawyers work in the most efficient way) and Tech (ensuring that the lawyers are just focused on the legal work, not logistics and admin).
Our mission is to be the most innovative legal services company in the world by enabling our lawyers to lead free and meaningful lives whilst solving the biggest pain points companies face when working with traditional global law firms.
Last year, Forbes (source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisoncoleman/2019/08/18/four-lawtech-startups-transforming-the-way-the-legal-sector-operates/) wrote that Lexoo began ‘as an online marketplace for lawyers and is evolving into a ‘new law’ company’. Legal Futures (source: https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/from-lawyer-marketplace-to-global-law-firm) even wrote that Lexoo aims to become ‘a virtual and distributed tech-driven global law firm’. How would you label your company? (optional)
What is the role of technology in your company and what do you think about its broader implications on the legal services sector?
Technology is a huge enabler for more consistent, high quality and efficient legal work. In our part of the market our clients still expect a human lawyer to be involved, but they’d like that lawyer to work as efficiently as possible. Technology helps automate parts of the work traditionally done by lawyers which shouldn’t be done by lawyers. This way lawyers can focus on the parts they can truly add value in, and leave the boring bits to technology or to project managers. In our case that means that technology automates the engagement (KYC and engagement letters), submitting quotes, messaging between clients/lawyers, providing automated status updates, visualizing progress in transactions in an automated and intuitive way, drafting first versions of contracts more quickly and efficiently and so on.
At the lower end of the market, there is a big opportunity to use tech to automate commoditized work. I think the broader implication is that we’ll perhaps need fewer lawyers in the future, but the lawyers will focus on higher value work.
Lexoo is trying to change how businesses buy and how lawyers sell legal services. Given it’s a traditionally conservative profession how do you persuade businesses to trust your platform when they are choosing lawyers?
This was certainly a challenge when we started out in 2014. Over time we’ve now built a reputation around quality and it really helps persuade new clients if they can see which other respected brand names are already Lexoo clients. Furthermore, there is a lot of additional social proof, all lawyers are reviewed by clients after they complete the work.
What is the main motivation for the lawyers who join Lexoo?
If a lawyer leaves a traditional firm, they have the expertise but often not enough clients.
It’s also hard for a boutique lawyer to get access to large company clients. By joining Lexoo they get access to high quality clients they otherwise wouldn’t be able to work for, and it helps them make a living outside of the big law environment.
Can Hungarian lawyers apply to Lexoo’s platform?
Yes, absolutely. We regularly work with Hungarian lawyers, typically on cross border work, where one of our US or UK based clients needs commercial contract work completed in a number of jurisdictions, or wants regulatory advice in a number of countries. We then project manage the work and instruct lawyers in various countries, including Hungary!
Ne hagyd ki a találkozás lehetőségét Daniele! November 29-én Ő is előad a Legal Innovation Day-en!
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