Startup News & Analysis

Why blockchain startup Legaler has raised $1.5 million ahead of its ICO

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

Legaler co-founders Stevie Ghiassi and Mike Hosseini. Source: Supplied.

Legaler co-founders Stevie Ghiassi and Mike Hosseini. Source: Supplied.

It may have an ICO on the cards, but blockchain-for-legal startup Legaler has also raised $1.5 million in funding to build its distribution network for the legal industry.

The funding round was led by MasterNode Ventures and also included Pacific Blue Capital and several private investors, who have not yet been named.

Speaking to StartupSmart, co-founder and chief of Legaler Stevie Ghiassi says the startup is developing a “blockchain-based platform for the legal industry”.

Launched last year by Ghiassi and co-founder Mike Hosseini as a networking tool for lawyers, Legaler now has more than 1,000 law firms signed up in 80 countries.

Ultimately, its flagship app Legaler Aid will match people who can’t afford traditional legal advice with those willing to provide it pro-bono, using a tokenised incentive platform. It will also provide a crowdfunding platform.

Quoting figures from the United Nations, Ghiassi says some four billion people worldwide have little to no access to legal representation. This is more than the two billion that are unbanked and the 3.5 billion that don’t have access to the internet, which are the groups blockchain technologies have typically targeted.

The plan now is to run the “Uber for law”, he says, creating a “dedicated blockchain for the legal industry” that will eventually have applications built on top of it.

Just like technology companies are becoming providers of services, Legaler will become “the world’s largest legal services provider, through blockchain infrastructure”, Ghiassi says.

Legaler originally announced its plans for an ICO back in February this year, with a hard cap of $35 million.

Six months later, despite a general slump in the cryptocurrency space, its still on the cards, but Ghiassi says it’s “something we’re trying to find the right time for, with the market”.

The ICO will likely happen towards the end of the year, he says, when Legaler will be pushing Legaler Aid as it’s MVP.

This $1.5 million in funding will be put towards building out the initial product and growing the team, as well as marketing the ICO.

“We’re not in a rush to try and raise. We want to build out an infrastructure people can use,” Ghiassi says.

“We’re in this for the long term,” he adds.

While Ghiassi is aware that adoption of blockchain technology in the mainstream will be a slow process, he points out that the sector is essentially based on smart contracts. And that’s etymology lawyers understand.

At the same time, lawyers are expressing some concern about changes from things like automation and artificial intelligence.

“There’s a state of flux in the industry,” Ghiassi says, “people are looking for new technology that is going to disrupt.”

The plan is to eventually build a marketplace, with Legaler adjusting its own offerings and opening up a platform for others to build apps upon, thereby “giving others a tool to be that disruption”.

At that point, “as opposed to being an operations-heavy company, we will be a blockchain-focused infrastructure company”, he says.

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is a reporter at StartupSmart.

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