Imvelo Ventures, the South African venture capital firm, founded by Capitec Bank and Empowerment Capital Investment Partners, has set an undisclosed amount of funding aside to assist in the growth of Legal Lens and BriefCo, two legal tech companies held by Cycad Group.
Imvelo Ventures and Cycad Group share an appreciation of the overwhelming benefit of introducing technology into the legal sector in South Africa.
According to Yusha Davidson, one of the co-founders of Cycad Group, the South African legal industry has been one of the slowest industries to respond to the technological revolution.
Davidson believes that Cycad Group is establishing a prominent foothold in South Africa’s nascent legal tech industry.
Legal Lens is a legal spend management company leveraging natural language processing and machine learning to regulate legal expenditure and mitigate excessive legal fees.
Legal Lens currently assists a number of banks, established companies, SMEs, and individuals. It has achieved savings on unpaid legal invoices up to 66% and has successfully implemented a number of bespoke billing policies aimed at regulating the manner in which law firms are able to bill for their services.
Davidson explains that the age of data offers legal consumers insight into their legal expenditure, but legal consumers lack an understanding of how to effectively utilize data to their advantage. Legal Lens is harnessing the power of data to drive better legal spend decisions.
BriefCo is South Africa’s first and only legal cost consultancy leveraging technology. BriefCo utilizes a team of experienced cost consultants, natural language processing and machine learning to automate the preparation of and opposition to bills of costs.
BriefCo has developed its own secure online platform to allow for the digital provision of legal cost consultancy services, including the delivery and storage of all relevant documents.
According to Catherine-Jane Paulse, a Co-founder of Cycad Group, incumbent legal cost consultants have, to the detriment of law firms and legal consumers, disregarded the adoption of technology.
Paulse notes that law firms are continuing to physically prepare files and deliver documents to incumbent cost consultants, thereby driving up the costs incurred by legal consumers.
Paulse further explains that due to incumbent cost consultants’ manual preparation of bills of costs and oppositions to bills of costs, law firms are having to wait up to 6 weeks to receive a bill of costs, which effectively results in legal consumers having to further delay the recovery of their legal fees.
Anton Baumann, executive director at Empowerment Capital and Imvelo Ventures, explains: “We’re looking for South African businesses developing unique tech solutions for South African problems.
With a combination of long-term patient growth capital, mentorship and access to market, we aim to assist their growth locally with our corporate partners and later beyond Africa, internationally. A combination of commercial potential and social impact is a critical element we look for.”
Davidson and Paulse have also established South Africa’s first legal tech network, the South African Legal Technology (SALT) Network.
The SALT Network connects all those persons interested in or working in law and technology. The SALT Network serves as an A2K (access to knowledge) platform, through the release of weekly content prepared by notable contributors including directors of large law firms, investment executives of venture capital firms, in-house counsel of established companies, founders of law/legal tech startups, and talented students.
The SALT Network, in partnership with ENSafrica, recently hosted a free training session on an ‘introduction to IT contracts’, which attracted 160 participants.
The SALT Network has monthly events planned, which will involve free training sessions, startup showcase events, and a pitch competition.
Davidson and Paulse believe that the SALT Network will put South Africa on the map as an eminent force in the development of knowledge related to law and technology and the creation and adoption of legal tech solutions.
Featured Image: Cycad Group Founders, Yusha Davidson (Left) and Catherine-Jane Paulse (Right)
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