Friday, December 2, 2016

The 11 Legal Tech Startups Currently Backed by Y Combinator

, Legaltech News

The Silicon Valley startup giant has focused most of its investments in legal technology in alternatives to traditional legal services.


Legal technology has been a slow-burning market for Y Combinator, the prestigious Silicon Valley accelerator backing some of today's most prominent technology companies. The accelerator offers growing startups a $120,000 investment and a mandatory participation in its summer boot camp-style program, culminating in a Demo Day showcasing new deliverable products.


Until very recently, the accelerator funded almost as many lawn-care startups as law-based startups, but Y Combinator has shown far more interest in the field in the last few years. YC president Sam Altman reportedly told Above The Law that "legal is an area he really likes." To date, however, most of the legal tech supported by the accelerator is aimed at regular consumers rather than attorneys themselves, leaving Big Law enterprise tech investments to other venture capitalists.

So far, the accelerator has funded these 11 legal tech startups, with more potentially on the horizon:

1. Casetext Inc. (Summer 2013): Casetext is an openly-accessible legal research tool that allows users to search primary documents from cases and statutes featuring annotated insights crowd-sourced from the legal community.
2. Clerky Inc. (Summer 2011): One of Y Combinator's first legal tech investments, Clerky offers an automated service for filing and signing legal documents that burgeoning startups need to set up shop.

3. Ironclad Inc. (Summer 2015): Ironclad is a document automation startup, offering templates for boilerplate contracts like nondisclosure agreements and sales contracts. The service then houses contracts in a secured and organized Dropbox folder.

4. Lawdingo (Winter 2013): Lawdingo early on abandoned its origins as a lawyer bidding marketplace startup, a notoriously unsustainable model for legal service marketplaces, and became a subscription-based service for connecting individuals to attorneys online.

5. Legalist Inc. (Summer 2016): With a new, machine learning-based spin on litigation financing, Legalist uses data drawn from 17 years of past case data to predict potential case success. The startup looks to invest in a market somewhat neglected by traditional litigation financing—cases with midsized projected settlements, those between $75,000 and $1 million.

6. ROSS Intelligence (Summer 2015): There's no shortage of interest in legal AI software startup ROSS Intelligence , which uses machine learning for quick, intuitive legal research. NextLaw Labs , the innovation subsidiary of global firm Dentons, has also invested in ROSS.

7. SimpleCitizen Inc. (Summer 2016): Silicon Valley is one of the most highly immigrant-rich communities in the U.S., so it makes sense that they would eventually get around to digitizing the process of applying for both naturalization and citizenship. The service walks users through the application process for a flat fee and connects more complex matters to an attorney.

8. SimpleLegal (Summer 2013): This startup is geared toward businesses looking to better understand and oversee their legal billing. The startup parses law firm bills line by line to flag outliers and monitor overcharges, making the tool perhaps more frustrating than friendly to Big Law firms.

9. Teleborder (winter 2013): Teleborder took on immigration legal needs from the business-side, helping companies manage and file immigration applications for employees. Human resources service provider TelNet acquired the company earlier this year.

10. Wevorce Inc. (Winter 2013): Legal matters tied to divorce, like immigration, can be fairly boilerplate filings, but they can also be fairly competitive and hostile. Wevorce aims to shift legal services around divorce to jointly serve families, not just one party or the other.

11. Willing (Summer 2015): Nobody likes the idea of preparing for death, but Willing takes the process of estate documentation and makes it possible to generate a will or living will online and sans attorney in a matter of minutes. The startup also offers a funeral-arrangement planning tool.