Startup Corner: Juralio in Focus

Based in Dundee and founded in 2013, Juralio develops software to help lawyers and their clients collaborate, either in the cloud or on premises. Here they are with more about who they are and what makes them tick.

How would you describe your company to a friend?

We develop software to help lawyers and their clients collaborate more effectively.

We’re fairly unusual for a legaltech start up in the degree of practical legal experience within our full-time executive management team. We believe this gives a useful insight into what problems really matter to lawyers and their clients in the areas we are tackling.

The short video will give a better idea.

And if you had to describe it to a techy?

We produce an HTML5 web app with a strong emphasis on user experience. We offer it as a cloud or on-premises product. We can integrate nicely with other key law firm systems.

When were you founded?

We incorporated in 2013. We showed some initial ideas and prototypes that year to a number of law firms and legal departments. We then took a view as to which aspects we could build into a successful product and business. Since 2014, we’ve put together a bigger team and have been developing our software in earnest. We now have 12 full-time staff, mainly developers.

By who?

The company was founded by Graeme Johnston and Steven Larcombe in 2013.

Graeme acts as CEO. He was formerly a litigation/arbitration partner at Herbert Smith (now HSF). He led two successful internal start-up projects within that firm – the successful and market-leading mainland China-based disputes practice (2006-10) and the project to define the operating model of, and establish, the firm’s Belfast office (2010-11). He left the firm in 2012 to pursue the ideas which became Juralio.

Steve chairs the Juralio board. He was formerly a senior business executive at BG (now part of Shell). His experience there included significant work with lawyers on transactions and disputes.

Who are your key managers/senior execs?

In addition to Graeme and Steve — Victor Bekink as CMO. Victor is a Dutch lawyer. After working at Stibbe (Amsterdam) and then Herbert Smith (China), he has held commercial roles which include working closely with lawyers, including working at KPCB China and then in the solar energy industry.  He is also a director of mycujoo, the rapidly growing soccer tech company.

What is your growth strategy?

In short, niche marketing initially, Geoffrey Moore-style.

We’re focusing at this stage on selected law firms with strong positions in one or both of the London or Amsterdam markets. Those are niches we understand well, and our product is a strong fit for major issues which firms face in terms of efficiency, quality, risk and client experience.

At this stage, we’re piloting privately in a way that is sensitive to each firm’s priorities and current state.

This certainly takes time, but it has enabled us to build a product which does things that lawyers and clients genuinely value and will actually use.

We’re sort of a “slow food” software operation. We know this is unorthodox in software, but we think it’s the best approach in this market for what we’re seeking to achieve.

Have you received investment?

We have a wonderful, supportive group of private investors. Yes, we have a number of private investors, but the principal investors are the senior management.

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

We made our essential choice of direction and priorities in 2014. We continue to challenge ourselves as to whether we called it right. So far, we think we did, but we frequently adjust points of detail based on feedback and developments.

What are the key challenges you face in your market?

It’s still quite a cautious sector, but things are starting to move.

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

Our recent experience is that key people at major law firms are increasingly coming to the view that, despite the massive amounts of hype in legaltech, there are some valuable things going on in the field which it isn’t safe to ignore.

Every firm is different, but we increasingly meet senior lawyers who have concluded that a thoughtful approach to software – combined, crucially, with other things – can help their firm to get ahead in meaningful ways, whereas in years gone by the prevailing view was that it was sufficient just to keep up, more or less, with the approach to software taken by peer firms.

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

We’re based in Dundee – the sunniest city in Scotland!

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