By Peter Frankl.
I travelled the length of the Sydney CBD so that I could hear the presentation of Jules Miller, who travelled the length of the world (from New York to Sydney), to share her insights about being a legal tech venture capitalist. The venue was the Janders Dean Legal Horizons Conference held at Pier One under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Jules Miller posed the question: Why are you investing in legal tech? The answer for most of us is that we work in the legal sector and we can see benefits from the use of a particular technology. We need to admit that we would consider investing in legal tech because we are in the middle of it all. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that except it’s not how venture capitalists think.
Jules Miller reminded us that being a venture capitalist is a profession, just like being a lawyer is a profession. She says that once you’ve done 30 deals (and presumably survived) then you’ve reached a milestone as a professional venture capitalist. Her chosen fields of specialisation are legaltech, regtech and blockchain.
It was fascinating to see the degree of detail that she had analysed the investment landscape for legal tech businesses. Australia has not been forgotten. She presented a detailed slide showing a representation of legal tech firms in Australia as well as another slide with details of major publicly announced investments in Australian legal tech businesses.
The largest number of legaltech businesses in Australia have a focus on document automation. The next two largest groups were legal ops and legal marketplaces. The slide gave a clear impression that Australia is an active place for legal tech startups and emerging businesses. She identified 24 different categories of Australian-based legal tech businesses that were actively developing products and services.
Jules Miller is a trailblazer as a specialist venture capital professional focusing on legaltech. She pointed out that the ‘big name’ venture capital funds are increasingly interested in legaltech and regtech. At Legal Practice Intelligence we have been regularly reporting on (mostly overseas) multi-million dollar investments, particularly in companies offering services to corporate enterprises in the fields of contract management and managed legal services. Jules Miller told us that worldwide in 2018 there was US$1 billion of investment in legal tech companies. That sounds like a decent amount of money, even if investment in fintechs over the same period was 40 times greater.
Avoid this fatal error if you are a legal tech startup that is supported by one or more law firms and you are seeking funds for growth: make sure your law firm or corporate supporters are actually using your product, says Jules Miller. Investors will struggle to reconcile why they should invest in your business when your biggest supporters are not even using your products.
More about Jules Miller at https://www.linkedin.com/in/julesmiller/