Case Study

Daniel Grant Smith, Head of Engagement at Legatics, tells us about the benefits of being part of the UK's LegalTech ecosystem and the company's ambitions for the future.

Legatics is an online transaction management platform for lawyers which makes the management and conclusion of deals more efficient and transparent. Designed by lawyers, it improves legacy working methods and solves practical transactional issues and is used by many of the world's top banking and finance law firms.

We spoke to Daniel Grant Smith, Head of Engagement at Legatics, about the benefits of being part of the UK's LegalTech ecosystem and the company's ambitions for the future.

What does your company do?

Legatics was founded in 2015 by Anthony Seale who was a finance associate at Clifford Chance. Based on his experiences in law, he saw an opportunity to make legal transactions more transparent and more efficient.

Lawyers are still dependant on lists to manage their processes, and typically use legacy systems like Word to organise these lists.  These processes can be very complex - lots of different documents flying around, lots of different phone calls and lots of different parties involved and requiring status updates – and are therefore often very difficult to efficiently manage in a system like Word.  Put simply, Legatics allows you to manage these transactions more easily and efficiently by creating digital versions of these lists. People can then use these lists to collaborate, to upload documents to push the transaction forward and to get a transparent, visual representation of the overall status of a deal. Crucial to us is solving pain points that lawyers actually face, so the users of the platform are always at the heart of its design.

We've been growing rapidly since 2015 and we are now used by law firms on large numbers of banking, finance and corporate deals. We are used by more than half of the Chambers & Partners top global banking and finance firms, with our customers including names such as Allen & Overy, Hogan Lovells, Herbert Smith Freehills and Shearman & Sterling.

Tell us about your UK and global operations.

We are 28 people currently and we are predominantly based in London. We were part of the first cohort of tech companies to work at Fuse, Allen & Overy's tech innovation space in London, and the experience was absolutely brilliant. It gave us the opportunity to come into lots of contact with lawyers, test ideas, get feedback, and improve the platform.

Previously we have been very much office based but, as needs must, we are all working remotely at the moment.  This has posed challenges – several new hires have been onboarded entirely remotely and we’ve had to think carefully about how to replicate the learning by osmosis and professional development that naturally occurs in a physical environment – but we strongly believe that the changes to work should be embraced and we should work to make sure key cultural elements like social events and pastoral care can be successfully achieved.

Changes to physical working practices are one part of what looks like being a broader fundamental shift in the ways people are working and how digital tools are being used in the wake of Covid-19.

This shift has had a direct impact on engagement with LegalTech like Legatics.  We have seen a massive push for digital transformation and renewed interest in modern working methods amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Because we are a tool that allows people to collaborate more effectively and help remote work, we have seen a big uptick in interest.

The nature of international law firms means that all the big firms have a huge international presence, frequently with large offices in London. So being able to have access to that international network has helped us win international business. London is the best place for us to be based. We couldn't have achieved what we have so far being based anywhere else.

What are the main benefits to being based in the UK?

The UK is a massive hub for LegalTech, so being based in the UK has been really beneficial for us. There are a lot of other companies at a similar stage to us and we've been lucky to share space with them at innovation hubs like Fuse and Barclays Eagle Labs which has allowed us to talk through ideas and discuss common problems or ways that they've adapted or found success.

There are also a large number of world leading industry bodies and events that are coming out of the UK which has made it very easy to talk to people, share ideas and be at the cutting edge of thinking. It feels like a very fertile ecosystem in the UK at the moment.

The nature of international law firms means that all the big firms have a huge international presence, frequently with large offices in London. So being able to have access to that international network has helped us win international business. London is the best place for us to be based. We couldn't have achieved what we have so far being based anywhere else.

Finally there is talent. We have been lucky to recruit very well across all functions of the business, which has helped build a fantastic culture within the company, and a lot of that is down to the brilliant access to talent in the UK.

The UK is a massive hub for LegalTech, so being based in the UK has been really beneficial for us. There are a lot of other companies at a similar stage to us and we've been lucky to share space with them at innovation hubs like Fuse and Barclays Eagle Labs which has allowed us to talk through ideas and discuss common problems or ways that they've adapted or found success.

Tell us about your company's growth ambitions and how the UK features in these.

A key focus for us is to continue to expand the platform’s use cases to cover different processes and different practice areas. We started out as a tool that was primarily used within finance transactions and are now being used more extensively in corporate transactions. We want to continue this trend – lawyers manage a multitude of different processes and we want to support and improve as many of these through the platform as possible.

Our staff numbers continue to grow. We are hiring at the moment!  While London gives us a fantastic base it would also be helpful to have a presence overseas. We are looking at New York and moving into the Asia Pacific region but, amid the current environment, these decisions are on hold. In any expansion, the UK would remain our headquarters and our largest presence.

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