Startup Corner: Briefed in Focus

Briefed is a mobile practice management system for barristers launched in 2014 by barrister Orlagh Kelly. Here, Kelly describes the company’s journey from concept to winning its first customer 10 minutes after launch. Barristers are often, much like the rest of the legal profession, resistant to change. But Kelly says that using apps to help save time in their personal life means they are increasingly open to new technology at work.

How would you describe your company to a friend?

Briefed is a simple mobile practice management system designed uniquely for barristers.

And if you had to describe it to a techy?

Briefed is a cloud-hosted platform for barristers which helps them manage the backend functionality of their businesses via a webapp and a native iOS App.

When were you founded?

Briefed was simply an idea in 2012 and 13 months later had been fully developed and launched on the market with it’s first customer signed up within 10 minutes.

By who?

Briefed is founded by me, Orlagh Kelly, a barrister.

As a practising barrister for eight years specialising in family law, I was fortunate in having a very busy practice.  But with a busy practice came a significant amount of administration.

Approximately half my working day was consumed completing tasks that I couldn’t charge for, with my preparation and reading being undertaken late at night or in the early mornings – not ideal for business or for family life.

On top of the real work of a barrister I had to balance drafting legal documents, repetitive correspondence for each case, recording time spent working, answering emails, filing paperwork, while also chasing outstanding fees, recording CPD points and maintaining financial records for VAT and tax. The list seemed endless and I was convinced there had to be an easier way. I searched for a solution – but there was no case management system for barristers on the market at all.

And so I developed Briefed.

Who are your key managers/senior execs?

I am the founder and CEO of Briefed. Having run my own barrister practice for twelve years I value the autonomy of being the key decision maker in the business, and on occasion this decision has enabled me to move quickly to secure great opportunities for the business.

What is your growth strategy?

We started out selling Briefed one by one to individual barristers, and this was very effective for testing the appetite for the product in the market, testing and improving on Briefed and building up a large group of early adopters who are, thankfully, passionate brand advocates for Briefed.

Going forward we are now growing our customer base by integrating with key products that barristers already use, to provide an even better customer experience.

Have you received investment?

The company is entirely privately owned, again the decision not to take on outside investment allows a significant amount of independence and flexibility and I would recommend to any other start-up to try to avoid investment unless it’s really necessary.

Who are your target clients?

Target clients for Briefed are barristers and chambers. We are a bespoke product, designed particularly for the unique way barristers work and although this is a niche market, we deliver exactly what the clients want. So I’m happy to continue doing that.

Have there been any key changes in direction since you were founded?

Yes and no. I originally designed the product for barristers who didn’t work as a member of a set of chambers, and who therefore didn’t have the benefit of having a clerk. Now I’m finding most of my barrister customers are actually members of chambers, who want to have more tools they can personally use. And therefore we focus more on chambers much more than originally imagined.

What are the key challenges you face in your market?

If I were to identify one key challenge I would say it is that most barristers lack confidence in their own technical abilities. I am often met with the phrase ‘I don’t know if I can use a system, I am a technophobe’. And of course they are completely underestimating their abilities. Briefed is intrinsically designed to be super easy to use. If someone can book a hotel online, they can definitely use Briefed. I firmly believe that if you have to spend more than an hour learning how to use a system then its not well enough designed. However once barristers get a chance to see Briefed, and use it themselves we get over this challenge pretty quickly.

What are the most exciting developments you’ve seen in your market in the past year to 18 months?

Reflecting on the journey so far, I can see Briefed was ahead of it’s time when it was launched, which of course what every tech founder wants! In the past 18 months I have noticed a significant increase in sales as barristers have become much more open to change, they have come to expect that they can use technology to make their working lives easier, in the way they do with apps in their personal life, and they are sufficiently motivated to go out and find the tools and products they need to help further their professional success.

Tell us something that people don’t already know about the company?

Most people don’t know that we have a successful spin out product which arose almost inadvertently as a result of our work on Briefed. It is a Data Protection Compliance Bundle for barristers – designed specifically to help them understand and meet their own data protection regulatory requirements.