SeedLegals is one of the hottest lawtech offerings – taking care of the legals for creating, running and funding startups. Hsiang Low, Head of Asia-Pacific at SeedLegals dives into the transformation of the legal sector, outlining how legaltech is paving new paths for legal services, building talent, and making legal services accessible to the burgeoning startup ecosystem.
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What is SeedLegals and what’s the founding story behind it?
SeedLegals automates the legals startups and small businesses need, dramatically cutting down the time and expense companies used to spend with traditional lawyers and accountants.
SeedLegals was founded by serial entrepreneur Anthony Rose and serial angel investor Laurent Laffy who met at a party in Rome. They’d both had enough of paying insane amounts of money to lawyers for the same legal documents at every funding round, and funding rounds taking months to negotiate and close. They decided to change it.
Fast forward 6 months and SeedLegals launched as the world’s first platform that lets founders and investors easily create, negotiate and sign all the legal agreements they need to do a funding round. In less than 3 years, SeedLegals became the largest closer of funding rounds in the UK (now, 1 in 4 early-stage funding rounds in the UK is done on SeedLegals – we open 50 funding rounds a week!).
SeedLegals expanded to France in 2020 then Ireland in mid-2021 and then took its first foray into Asia-Pacific by launching in Singapore and Hong Kong in late-2021.
Can you share more about your background as a lawyer, and your journey into legaltech with SeedLegals?
Starting my career as a lawyer was awesome! I was fortunate to start my career in London at an international magic circle firm with brilliant colleagues, lots of travel and the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people. During my time in BigLaw I developed many transferable skills – negotiation skills, analytical skills, communication, and of course, the ability to read many words with tiny font size on a page without going (too) mad.
I was also a very curious individual and over the years, had various opportunities to experiment on tech-related projects (well before the term “legaltech” was widely used) which helped me to develop foundational tech product development skills. Getting to think about how technology could improve the delivery of legal services and then implement those ideas was exciting. There are so many opportunities to keep disrupting and improving the legal industry, and I wanted to be part of that. In 2017, I helped to create an in-house legaltech startup called Nakhoda, with a goal to prototype and create solutions for use by clients. Working alongside my team of developers, product managers and data scientists, I had the opportunity to develop and deploy technology that would innovate and disrupt the derivatives industry, a complex area of finance and law.
With SeedLegals today I get to continue this journey in an area I find immensely enjoyable – startups! I love the startup space. Founders have brilliant, creative and wild ideas, and infectious passion! The entrepreneurial spirit in Asia is as vibrant as it is diverse, and it is so rewarding to play a part in a startup’s growth. At SeedLegals, we are helping to drive this growth by leveraging technology to provide for more seamless legals that are needed to help companies start, raise and grow (in just a few clicks).
The legaltech space is still relatively in its infancy stage. How do you see SeedLegals playing its part to change the legal landscape and what will legal look like in the coming years?
Traditionally legaltech was about software and solutions to help lawyers do their jobs – automating databases, contract management tools etc. And while that’s still what the majority of what legaltech is focused on, a lawtech sub-industry is starting to emerge – which is where SeedLegals sits – that’s focused on creating legal solutions for the end clients, not lawyers.
In the coming years people are going to really have the choice whether they want to use a tech solution to handle their legals or whether they want to (or can afford to) engage traditional human lawyers and law firms. There will always be a role for the human lawyer, of course, but the emergence of choice is going to force lawyers and firms to upskill, innovate and become more competitive and commercially-savvy in order to survive.
SeedLegals calls itself the one-stop legal platform for budding startups and investors. Can you share more on what SeedLegals offers to startups?
Everything on SeedLegals is centred around helping startups and companies grow – whether it is fundraising or employing your team. Legal documents are always needed, so we just made it simple to create legally-compliant documents that can be completed with a few clicks in just a few minutes (yes, I know that sounds too good to be true). All of that is powered by intelligent automation and is continually improved by the data-driven insights we collect on-platform. We’ve already helped more than 35,000 startups and investors raise more than USD1.2 billion on-platform, so we’ve got a lot of data.
Through the SeedLegals platform you can create team contracts, manage your cap table, raise funding, set up your employee share option schemes and more. We also offer an array of agile funding services which help founders raise money – from one-off investment to a full funding round and top-ups in between.
Our users get access to unlimited support by our team of funding and options experts who guide them through key deal terms to understand the commercials of any fundraising they are looking to undertake or option scheme they are looking to set up. The end result is balanced deal docs created quickly and reliably, with less time and money spent worrying about legals so they can focus their energy on scaling their business.
The SeedLegals platform is built to be used by founders, but we have found that a lot of major and very sector-specific investors also want to be a part of what we’re doing. So, we also work with investors to set them up with free accounts, run demos for their teams and introduce them to our deal documentation. We also build-in investor-specific provisions and make it a 1-click option for startups they are investing in.
With the digitalisation and transformation of the legal industry, how do you think this will affect the talent market? Do you see more talents moving into alternative careers or industries?
Highly educated law graduates and highly trained legal professionals are exploring alternative career paths rather than just following the “traditional” route. There are a lot of contributing factors as to why – the emergence of new and disruptive businesses in the market, the ease of access to online educational content for upskilling, the rapid improvement of technology to enable remote working (such as cloud computing and video conferencing platforms) and more. The recent pandemic has also forced many professionals, young or otherwise, to reconsider their career and life priorities.
Legaltech presents an excellent opportunity as an alternate career courtesy of its sheer diverse potential and also that many skills are transferable. This means greater opportunity for talent movement, and therefore greater choice for talented individuals, especially young and ambitious legal talent!
At SeedLegals, we have law graduates who have developed new and exciting skills with us such as coding through to video editing, and always with a strong customer facing mindset equipping them with highly valuable communication and service-oriented competencies that are relevant in any career path. The future legal talent needs to have broader complimentary skills to make them even more valuable in today’s fast-changing world.
What can the legal industry do to empower legal talents moving into commercial or startup roles?
It starts with education. Lawyers are incredibly well-educated but most are traditionally taught to go ‘deep’, to become experts in their field. The trick then, is to also go wide. This means to look at upskilling themselves in the less obvious skills – what do you know about marketing or computer programming? Have you considered taking a summer to learn about finance, or a gap year trying to build your own startup? Every experience counts, and the most successful leaders are those with the ability to think broadly.