Former Clio partnerships manager Daniel Steinberg has launched his own legaltech company: Lawbrokr.
Armed with $785,000 CAD in fresh financing, the new Toronto-based startup aims to tackle what one of its investors describes as “a universal problem”—how to find the right legal help.
Bryker Capital’s Bryan Kerdman described Lawbrokr as “akin to a legal marketplace dating app.”
Lawbrokr closed its pre-seed round last fall, shortly after it was founded, to support the development of the company’s software. Since then, Lawbrokr has been focused on building out its product and marketplace of lawyers. Today, the firm is launching its platform to consumers in Toronto and the surrounding areas.
Lawbrokr’s round, which the startup raised through a simple agreement for future equity (SAFE) instrument, closed in October 2021. It was led by Bryker Capital, a Toronto-based venture capital firm that makes early-stage investments in information technology companies. The round also saw participation from a list of angels that include Klass Capital Managing Partner Daniel Klass, AlayaCare co-founder Neil Grunberg, and MindBeacon Executive Chair Sam Duboc.
An undisclosed group of partners from one of Toronto’s “Seven Sisters” law firms—which includes Blakes, Davies, Goodmans, McCarthy, Osler, Stikeman, and Torys—also invested in Lawbrokr as part of the round.
Bryker Capital Managing Partner Bryan Kerdman described Lawbrokr as “akin to a legal marketplace dating app.” The company’s web-based offering serves as a “recommendation platform,” matching potential clients to suitable lawyers through its algorithm and enabling them to communicate through it to determine whether they are the right fit for one another.
Since Lawbrokr is not a law firm, Steinberg, Lawbrokr’s CEO, said it can’t take commissions or connection fees. Instead, the startup plans to deploy a tiered, traditional software-as-a-service subscription model on the lawyer side, and is still determining exact pricing, while offering it for free to consumers.
“The idea there is it’s a low-cost barrier to entry to try and drive new and efficient ways to find new consumers or new demand to your law practice,” said Steinberg.
Lawbrokr has launched with lawyers in five specialties—wills and estates, real estate, immigration, personal injury, and employment—and plans to expand into new types of law as it grows.
The startup’s goal is to simplify access to legal services. According to Steinberg, this problem is twofold: from a legal standpoint, it is difficult for small firms and solo practitioners to stand out, and from a consumer standpoint, it is tough to determine who the right legal representation is and why.
Prior to launching Lawbrokr, Steinberg sold enterprise software tools, before moving to Clio where he spent over two years working as manager of channel partnerships and then senior manager of channel and app partnerships, helping lawyers and law firms digitize their storefronts.
Steinberg left Clio in October 2021 to focus fully on Lawbrokr, where he aims to leverage his legaltech and enterprise software experience in building his own startup. To do so, the CEO teamed up with co-founder and CTO Dimitrios James Ziavras, an experienced software engineer and developer who Steinberg said has been “in a lot of businesses from the ground up.”
According to Steinberg, there is “a lot of noise” in the legaltech sector, which he said is a good thing because “competition breeds a market.”
Canada’s growing legaltech space is headlined by established players like Toronto’s Dye & Durham, and emerging scaleups like Burnaby-based Clio, which both focus primarily on serving lawyers with various legal operations software products.
In January alone, two other early-stage Canadian legaltech startups have announced fresh funding: Edmonton-based PainWorth, which aims to simplify the personal injury insurance claims process, and Calgary-based Goodlawyer, which connects Canadian entrepreneurs to specialized legal services.
From a tech perspective, Lawbrokr wants to “enhance and be an add-on” for law firms, serving as a “complementary” solution that helps lawyers to find new business, but does not control the way they operate or intake clients. To achieve this goal, the startup plans to evaluate various integrations as it grows.
AlayaCare co-founder Grunberg told BetaKit that Lawbrokr “checks every box” for him from an investment standpoint, adding that he was particularly impressed by Steinberg’s “hunger, intelligence, and talent.” He cited Steinberg’s willingness to drive 30 minutes to Grunberg’s house for a 6:30 am walking meeting just to obtain some advice last summer.
Following its Toronto launch, Lawbrokr intends to branch out into other markets, using its remaining funding to support these efforts and its further product development plans.
“The market is big enough just in Canada to justify our investment in Lawbrokr, but this goes far beyond Canada [and] even North America,” Kerdman told BetaKit. “Finding qualified and relevant legal help is a universal problem. Finding new clients in a directed fashion is something lawyers have been asking for.”
Grunberg agrees. “The sky is really the limit for Daniel and his team,” he said. “There is no shortage of young, hungry demand-side participation for Lawbrokr and as many lawyers out there who should be on this platform.”
Feature image courtesy of Lawbrokr