Lawpath has secured $7.5 million in fresh funding to further scale its legal tech platform for small business owners, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the traditional legal industry.
Founded by Dominic Woolrych at the end of 2014, Lawpath offers small business customers a cost-effective, one-stop shop to accessing legal services via a freemium model. Businesses can subscribe to the platform to access templates for legal documents, as well as connect with individual lawyers via an online marketplace.
The startup’s latest capital raise includes a host of new, high-profile backers, including the Gonski family office; Justin Ryan, co-founder of Glow Capital Partners and chair of Adore Beauty;, Tony Faure, chair of Ooh! Media and Readytech, and Barry and Darren Smorgon’s Sandbar Investments.
Returning investors Adcock Private Equity and LegalZoom also participated in the round, as did US-based investors Khai Ha, director of LegalZoom, and Gonzalo Troncoso, founding partner at Kobe Bryant’s VC fund, Bryant Stibel.
Woolrych tells SmartCompany the funding will be used to double the existing Lawpath team of 42, with the startup already “aggressively” recruiting to add to its product and software capabilities.
These new hires will be instrumental in scaling the Lawpath platform for international users, with New Zealand earmarked to be the startup’s first territory for expansion.
Woolrych says Lawpath plans to undertake a soft launch in New Zealand next year, before exploring other countries in Asia, which have already been the source of enquiries for the business.
The experience of the startup’s new backers will also be key to this expansion, says Woolrych, who says many of the investors have legal background and personal experience with scaling their own businesses, as well as extensive business networks.
“It also sets us up really nicely for future funding events,” he adds.
Legal services changing for small business
Lawpath has more than 230,000 users, for both its free and paid services, with the COVID-19 pandemic further fuelling the need for flexible and on-demand legal services for small businesses.
Woolrych says the platform has seen significant growth during the lockdowns as businesses of all sizes were forced to move online and on-demand professional advice became critical for small business survival.
“Secondly, COVID was a catalyst for many businesses to rethink their existing legal providers and see what else is out there,” adds Woolrych.
Employment law has emerged as one of the key legal issues facing Australian businesses during the pandemic, particularly in relation to mandatory vaccinations, says Woolrych, while Lawpath has also seen more enquiries from business owners about commercial leases and how to get out of them.
At the same time, Lawpath has also seen a “huge uptake” in new business setups on its platform as more Australians look to establish side hustles or small businesses while working remotely.
Lawpath offers small businesses the ability to register their companies and tax details online, while also connecting them to other service providers through partnerships with the likes of Xero, Prosper, BizCover and GoDaddy.
Woolrych says five per cent of all new companies in Australia are stated on the Lawpath platform, a number the startup is “really happy with” and hopes to grow.
The pandemic has ushered in significant changes in the legal sector, says Woolrych, and he predicts the use of video conferencing and the use of electronic signatures to stay even after lockdowns are lifted.
“I think we’re seeing customers and clients becoming really comfortable doing things remotely or online,” he says.
“I don’t think we’ll go back to the point where you visit your lawyer in their office.”