Atrium LTS, a startup founded by Twitch co-founder Justin Kan, has just completed a new funding round that will help it to automate the legal profession.
Don't worry, Lionel - we're not talking about replacing lawyers. The big draw of automation is offloading time-consuming tasks to machines, and Atrium has found a way to do that for attorneys and solicitors.
Atrium, which was officially launched last year and now has more than 100 employees, has developed software that can digitise legal documents and build applications on top of them. As an example, it can automatically turn startup funding documents into Excel cap tables.
The company's latest funding round raised $65 million, led by investment firm Andreessen Horowitz.
Atrium told TechCrunch that it will use the extra resources to build new internal tools. Kan said, "We can ultimately be this platform on top of which you're building these legal businesses and eventually other professional services and software services. They're all sitting on top of the platform that understands legal documents."
Andreessen Horowitz partner Andrew Chen will join the board. He writes, "Law firms generate revenue from hourly billing, and lack an incentive to vastly improve efficiency. Many law firms dividend out all their profits at the end of each year, making it hard to invest in the expensive investment of building software. Software is hard to build inside a software company, much less a law firm."
Kan is very open about the fact that he isn't a lawyer, or indeed an expert of any sort in the legal field, and that this could present a challenge.
"I think for any full stack vertical startup started by a non-subject matter expert...there is a risk that you come in and are very prescriptive on how things work," he told TechCrunch. "Then you build software that says ‘the providers must do it this way!' But the practical reality is that it doesn't work with the nuanced, non-linear workflows that providers already have. So the technology doesn't get adopted and fails to provide value. That to me is the biggest upcoming risk."
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