Legal tech startup Josef, which helps Community Legal Centres (CLCs), law firms and enterprises create bots to assist clients with legal problems, has raised more than $1 million in a seed funding round.
The firm, which launched in May last year, announced yesterday it had secured backing from Tiger Financial Group, Jelix and angel investor Ben Armstrong to further its mission “to make all legal services more accessible”.
The Josef platform enables lawyers to stand up legal bots that can automate conversations with clients, give advice and draft legal documents. The bots are created through an easy to use interface, meaning they can be built by users without any coding experience.
“We decided to raise the funds to capitalise on a pretty stellar first year. We’re continuing to build out the best, next generation automation platform. And bringing together an amazing team – we’ve brought together some of the best people around from the corporate world, the legal world and the tech world – we think that’s really key to making this a success,” company co-founder and chief operating officer Sam Flynn told CIO Australia.
The Josef dashboard
The startup’s first live chatbot –Health Complaints Assist– went live in June, built by Polaris Lawyers in Melbourne. Since then more than 600 bots have been built on Josef, which have dealt with over 30,000 legal problems covering employment law, environmental law, startup law, health law, commercial law, bankruptcy and consumer law.
Clients include Future Super, the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) NSW, and Herbert Smith Freehills.
“We’re working a pilot chatbot with Josef as a solution to a range of important – relatively simple – but nevertheless time consuming high volume enquires our centre receives. The project with Josef is designed to free up our lawyers time to work on more complex disputes and legal problems,” said EDO NSW chief executive David Morris.
“Ultimately effective legal tech should allow us to deliver more for the community,” Morris added.
Herbert Smith Freehills partner Mike Gonski called the platform a ‘game changer’ for the sector.
“I believe that Josef are onto something big…my view on the future of law is that lawyers need to work out how to turn what they do every-day into processes. Josef is the first software I have seen where the lawyer is empowered to turn their process into a chatbot or an app rather than needing to pay a developer to do it for them,” he said.
Josef – part of tech accelerator Startmate’s 2018 cohort – is also being used overseas by organisations in the US and Asia. Top-line revenue has grown over the last six months by 510 per cent.
The Josef team
“The thing that makes it really exciting and also makes the long days easier is that we really believe in our mission. We’re a for profit company working with these big law firms but our mission remains the same, making legal services more accessible no matter who you are,” Flynn, who in 2016 created a web app to help Melbourne commuters calledmyki fines, said.
“It’s addressing a real problem in a real way, and that’s what I find really cool and inspiring,” he added.
Managing director of investor Tiger Financial Group, Kara Frederick, noted the strength of Josef’s team and usefulness of its product.
“From fintech to legal tech, technology is disrupting the traditional professional services landscape globally,” Frederick, a former partner of Westpac-backed venture capital firm Reinventure, said.
“Josef, led by a strong founding team, has built a leading software platform to enable law firms to focus on what they do best – advise – while Josef makes the client experience seamless, efficient and more cost effective,” she added.