Calgary-based Goodlawyer has secured over $1 million CAD in pre-seed funding to connect Canadian entrepreneurs to specialized legal services, capping off a year of growth for the legaltech startup.
Co-founded in 2018 by corporate lawyer-turned-tech entrepreneur Brett Colvin, the company’s CEO, Goodlawyer offers a legal services marketplace that matches business owners and startups with small law firms and solo practitioners.
The fresh financing follows a year of growth for Goodlawyer.
The fresh financing follows a busy year for Goodlawyer, which grew its team from eight to 24 and reached $1 million in revenue after facilitating over 5,000 legal jobs and serving more than 3,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses in 2021, amid strong demand for its marketplace.
Goodlawyer is a member of Canada’s growing legaltech space, where it hopes to set itself apart from the competition by focusing on entrepreneurs and offering free education about the types of legal services startups need and how to access them.
In an interview with BetaKit, Colvin argues that what differentiates Goodlawyer from other legaltech companies is its focus on a consumer segment he believes is “completely unserviced” by the existing market—entrepreneurs.
Goodlawyer’s all-equity round, which closed in December, was financed by a group of undisclosed Calgary entrepreneurs and a local family office that included serial founder Alina Martin, through her tech-focused family office Be First Investments.
“The legal industry has for many years been ripe for disruption,” Martin told BetaKit. “While there will always be a need for complex legal needs, the reality is, there are simply many tasks such as incorporations and breaking down the barriers to legal advice that can and should be done better.”
According to Martin, Goodlawyer is “well poised” to solve these needs, adding that she thinks “it’s brilliant to see this kind of innovation in Alberta.”
Canada’s growing legaltech space is headlined by established players like Toronto’s Dye & Durham, and emerging scaleups like Burnaby-based Clio, which has seen a lot of growth recently, and has sought to bolster its C-Suite in preparation for a potential initial public offering. Both companies focus primarily on serving lawyers with various legal operations software products.
“The difference between what we’re doing and what a lot of companies in legaltech are doing is … they’re trying to streamline the actual lawyering component and often catering to big firms, trying to give them automated tools or better research tools,” said Colvin. “But we’ve taken a completely different tact.”
Since many of these entrepreneurs have legal needs that most big law firms “aren’t made for” from an economic standpoint, Goodlawyer matches them with a pool of legal experts that are—solo practitioners and small, boutique law firms.
“We partnered with Thomson Reuters this year, so we’re able to put these hugely powerful tools in the hands of all these solo practitioners … trying to give that big, firm power to these little guys that can, again, help the entrepreneurs that we play with,” said Colvin.
Colvin secured his Juris Doctor from the University of Alberta, where he wrote a paper on access to justice that stuck with him. “I discovered that 77 percent of legal needs were going completely unmet, which is counterintuitive, because when you’re in law school, it feels like there’s too many lawyers and not enough jobs,” he said.
When he graduated in 2015, Colvin joined a big Canadian law firm, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG), where he practised corporate law for about four years. At BLG, Colvin remained concerned about access to justice, trying to innovate and “bring new ideas to the fold,” but these efforts, he said, were stifled.
“I left the firm in early 2019 and started going full steam on Goodlawyer … to try to build this bridge between all of these lawyers that I knew I had lots of capacity to help and all of these entrepreneurs, small business owners, startup founders that are itching for some professional legal expertise,” he said.
According to Colvin, these needs are unmet because “lawyers are expensive and scary.”
Goodlawyer aims to change that by bringing more transparency and familiarity to the process of accessing legal advice and services, which Colvin described as “especially important to small businesses and startups.”
Part of the way Goodlawyer hopes to do so is through the free legal services education seminars and content it offers to entrepreneurs. Colvin described this educational component, which also serves as a means of customer acquisition, as “foundational” to Goodlawyer’s approach. He claims it is a “big differentiator” in the legaltech space.
“We can bat way above our weight when it comes to content because the traditional law firms are not very good at the content piece,” he said.
The startup makes money in two ways, taking a service fee on dollars spent on its platform, as well as through its pro subscription service.
Goodlawyer’s marketplace is available across Canada, connecting entrepreneurs to about 100 lawyers from around the country, about half of which are based in Ontario.
Going forward, the startup’s looking to “double down” on its presence in Ontario and Toronto, which Goodlawyer views as a prime target for growth given the province’s concentration of early-stage companies.
“We’re talking about a $5 billion existing legal market for SMEs in Canada,” said Colvin. “It is a huge pie that we think is going to grow significantly when we start tapping into a lot of these unmet needs.”
Feature image courtesy of Goodlawyer