Making deals simpler than ever: Arextech wins the Global Legal Tech Venture Day
Arextech, with its product sympl.deals, has won the third edition of the Global Legal Tech Venture Days, a startup competition promoting global tech innovation within the legal industry developed in collaboration with the Law Schools Global League and with sponsorship by LexisNexis
This year, the top prize went to Arextech, a real-estate transaction startup that reduces the time taken to close a deal and increases deal capacity through its sympl.deal collaborative platform.
Arextech offers all the necessary tools for each party involved in a deal or negotiation, which simplifies the process. Their collaborative project management platform called sympl.deal streamlines the often tedious, difficult and slow process involved in arranging, submitting and reviewing legal documents all in one place. This technical solution is fully complemented by human support to address any of their clients’ day-to-day needs.
Ignacio Suarez, Head of Operations & Partner at Arextech, envisions the startup as being the global cloud-based hub for facilitating institutional deals in a seamless manner between investors, lawyers and brokers. Currently, Arextech is focused entirely on real estate transactions in Canada, UK, Germany and Spain. However, their first pilots with legal firms are already underway as they look to expand into the full breadth of the legal sector and international market.
Upon hearing news of winning the legal tech competition, Ignacio communicated his startup’s and personal pride before stating the core philosophy of Arextech:
“Relationships with the client are very important and that’s where we are trying to focus our development of the product. We want to make this relationship more transparent between a lawyer and their clients… This is how we are trying to improve this sector.”
3 lessons learned
Richard Mabey Co-founder and CEO of Juro, an online tool that helps manage contracts and reach agreements within a single unified workspace, was invited to share his inspiring story of entrepreneurial success. Over the last five years he has raised $8 million in venture capital funds and partnering with many leading scale-ups, such as the delivery service Deliveroo. In his speech, he highlighted the lessons he learned from the laborious task of overcoming the daunting odds that startups face.
The first lesson he shares is, “find what you love and don’t let people get in your way.” Although he had a secure and stable job at Freshfields law firm in England, Richard made the bold decision to quit in 2013 after roughly three years at the firm. Richard followed what he wanted to do and he sees this as key to withstanding the emotional pressures that inevitably accompany entrepreneurship.
From Richard’s time as a solicitor, he notes that lawyers find it particularly difficult to enact his second lesson: “Challenge the status quo.” After being tasked with completing multiple NDAs in a short period of time, the tedium and inefficiency of the process led Richard to begin developing a solution. In entrepreneurship, he strongly advocates first identifying what is inefficient or broken within the status quo, and from there working to find a way to overcome it. This approach encourages empathy with customers and contrasts with the “solutions in search of problems” approach, which attempts to apply new technologies without a specific problem to resolve. By making a solution that you yourself would use, and colleagues would use, Richard highlights the potential to then commercialize such a solution and build a large business.
The final lesson Richard shares is to “avoid analysis paralysis.” Intimately familiar with the cautious and analytical nature of most lawyers, he urges action over excessive deliberation where it’s better to try, fail and learn than to stay in the planning stage.
His own product was judged unfavorably by some of his first clients. However, the result of having a product to show, improving it upon each encounter and learning to “operate at 80% confidence” when making multiple fast-paced decisions is what drove Juro to international success. Now, they boast over 400,000 customers in more than 85 countries with over 200,000 legal contracts processed.
While risk-taking is not the hallmark of the great lawyer, Richard states that it is “imperative in order to be a great entrepreneur.”
The competition commenced with Founder and CEO of App4Legal, Feras El Hajjar, presenting his one-stop vertical SaaS platform and legal tech marketplace for legal teams. They aim to be a complete practice management software for all legal practitioners. The team of 40 in total work with clients based in over 50 countries, including banks, telcos, law firms and governmental groups.
Based in the UK, Docutable, the second startup presented by its CEO Alexander Abolmasov, highlighted his product’s ability to reduce costs and increase speed in document workflow using AI. Focusing on the finance, retail and insurance industries, Docutable streamlines the processing of documents of all kinds to their clients based in the US, UK, Russia and Armenia.
Inspired by conservation work in the tropical rainforests of Brazil, Elena Mechik founded Inhubber, a blockchain-based program that uses AI to bring trust and transparency to business deals. Their program highlights important sections within a client’s contracts and responds to queries like a “Google for contracts.” Their clients include Goldbeck, and their target is the contract life cycle management market.
My Legal Einstein, a US-based startup created by Jim Chiang, was the final presentation to impress the jury and audience. My Little Einstein focuses on the problems present within legal contract collaboration processes and its AI-powered solution reduces contract execution time by up to 80%. It aims to provide value to the user by processing a document within one hour. Additionally, their mission is to educate the legal sector on the reality of AI and how it can be integrated, assuaging concerns of AI replacing lawyers and highlighting its strengths in bettering speed, content and costs.
The five startups competing in the event were evaluated by a jury made up of both local and international experts, consisting of Karel Escobar Sánchez, Co-founder of Backfund, Gloria Sánchez Soriano, group legal VP and Head of Legal for Technology & Legal Transformation at Banco Santander, Sumi Trombley, Senior Consultant at Uplevel Ops, Daniel Lewis, VP and GM of Practical Guidance Analytical at LexisNexis and Co-founder of Ravel Law and Sébastien Bardou.
The state of the legal tech industry
As the jury deliberated, Alejandro Touriño, Managing Partner and Head of Information Technology at Ecija, led a discussion with his fellow panel members on the state of the legal tech industry, the conditions for its success and its future trends. The panel members consisted of Alisha Andert, Co-founder of This is Legal Design and Chairwoman of the German Legal Tech Association, Elizabeth Lugones, Senior Consultant at Uplevel Ops, and Susan Mortimore, CEO at LexisNexis Austria.
The panel members emphasized the positive direction of legal tech tool providers alongside educational institutions such as IE Law School in providing a holistic set of skills and knowledge to better navigate the present and lead the future of the legal sector. Susan Mortimorer added a word of caution to legal tech startups, stating that bad timing can lead to novel ideas and products finding no purchase in the market, as she experienced daily with LexisNexis. Each of the panel members drew attention to the hesitancy many lawyers face regarding tech solutions, predicting two to five years before the legal sector is ready for the integration of tech.
Elizabeth Lugones sees more and more companies needing such solutions due to the drive to become data-centric, transparent, and enhance workflow management. While the potential value of tech solutions is limitless, both Alisha and Elizabeth state that tech comes last not first, as identifying what the root problem is serves as the basis of a tech solution. In doing so, the tech can be leveraged to the best of its capabilities and evolve from a complementary tool to a must-have one.
The inevitable disruption and evolution of legal practices
Soledad Atienza, Dean of IE Law School, closed the event with representatives of partner institutions, Martin Hogg, Co-President of the Law Schools Global League and Dean of Edinburgh Law School, and Sébastien Bardou, Director of Strategy at LexisNexis.
In Martin Hogg’s opening address, he stated that “there is probably nothing more important right now in the legal world than looking at the way in which legal tech can enhance the business of lawyers [and] can help clients to engage with their interests.” This was not only met but surpassed by each of the high-quality startup presentations that demonstrated the present benefits and future potential of making the complex simple by harnessing tech solutions.
As Richard Maybey affirmed and the presentations corroborated, entrepreneurs in the legal tech sector hold the keys to leading global change in the legal professional world.