Big law to lawtech
One of our alumni is on a mission to make it easier for legal teams to manage contracts.
Richard Mabey is cofounder and CEO of Juro, a cloud-based contract management platform aimed at in-house legal functions. He was at Freshfields between November 2010 and December 2013, spending two years as a trainee followed by one as an associate in the corporate team.
Tell us a little bit more about your time at the firm.
It was a very crammed three years, that’s for sure! I worked with the likes of Edward Braham, James Scott, Adrian Maguire and Charles Hayes, concentrating on M&A, which was a great exercise in stakeholder and time management under seemingly impossible constraints.
I also spent some time on secondment, which was when I learned about the challenges faced by in-house legal teams. Without that insight, I couldn’t have started Juro.
What did you do after you left Freshfields in 2013?
The main reason I left the firm was to move into legal technology – or ‘lawtech’ as it now gets called. But I felt I needed a bit of business training before I started. So I spent a year studying for an MBA at INSEAD, a business school just outside Paris.
After that, I was hired by LegalZoom a US-based business offering legal services to individuals and small business owners.
This combination of three years of law practice, an MBA and experience of digitising legal processes meant I was ready to start a lawtech business of my own.
The firm’s alumni network helped get Juro going, we hear…
Very much so.
I received an alumni newsletter that featured this guy called Ned Staple, general counsel at Freshfields’ client Zoopla, a property website.
Ned was at the firm for seven years, then left to found his own start-up before moving on to Zoopla. I contacted him and several months later he agreed to invest in the business as an angel. He’s been a formidable adviser ever since.
Tell us a bit more about Juro
While at Freshfields, I worked on drafting very complex legal agreements. But for in-house teams, as well as this high-value work, there are lower-value, repetitive processes that can be done equally as well – if not better – by technology. This prompted me to start building Juro.
We have the privilege of working with forward-looking legal teams at places like Deliveroo and Estee Lauder, helping them process thousands of contracts a year.
With Juro, our clients can automatically create standard-form documents, negotiate the terms via a browser and get the final version signed electronically. The software also ensures that the correct terms are agreed every time and renewal deadlines are never missed. But perhaps the most powerful part is the analytics. Juro can, for example, identify levels of contractual activity, potentially problematic clauses and so on.
We estimate that Juro is saving in-house legal teams 75 per cent of their time on this kind of work. It leaves clients’ lawyers with more time to do the high-value stuff – useful when businesses are looking to reduce legal spend.
Having raised financing from funds like Point Nine Capital and Seedcamp, and individuals like Paul Forster (founder of Indeed.com) and Michael Pennington (founder of Gumtree), we are now focused on growing our customer base.
And you’ve won the odd accolade…
Yes, indeed. We won the main award at Legal Geek’s 2017 conference in London. I hasten to add that our winning was in no way connected to Freshfields’ sponsorship of the event!
The award helped give us extra momentum, which thankfully we’ve still got. We’re aiming to expand to 30 people by the end of the year.