LTN Startup Spotlight: Why LawFlex Co-Founder Jackie Donner Advises ‘Bootstrap As Long As Possible’

by | Mar 1, 2024 | Updates

For Jackie Donner, the co-founder of LawFlex, a platform that connects freelance lawyers to companies, getting too much investment too early risks leading to a “black hole of development”.

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Name of Company: LawFlex
Founders: Jackie Donner and Zohar Fisher
Date Founded: 1/1/2018
Date and Amount of Funding Received: Angel seed; then bootstrapped.
What does your company do?
It’s a global platform for connecting freelance lawyers to companies.

What need did you see in the legal tech market that wasn’t being filled?
We saw a gap in the speed and accuracy of matching between lawyers and clients globally.

What have been your biggest struggles as a startup?
Finding the right chief technology officer who understands the nuances of our industry.

What advice would you give other startups?
Bootstrap as long as you can to raise your valuation.
Headquarters: Tel Aviv
Company Deep Dive
Legaltech News sat down with LawFlex co-founder Jackie Donner to discuss how finding the lawyer can be challenging, the proliferation of ALSPS, and why bootstrapping can build a better product in the longrun.
The following conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

Legaltech News: Why are there are gaps between matching freelance lawyers to corporate clients? What are the key hurdles standing in the way?

Donner: Our aim is to match general counsels with attorneys anywhere in the world fast. The challenge is that you need a huge amount of data to train an algorithm properly—the holy grail of the industry is having an accurate matching algorithm. This is something we are working on and improving weekly. Factoring in soft skills to matching is also something that we are trying to perfect, and is often as important as hard skills to a
successful match. Factoring in freelancer availability is also a challenge— as sometimes someone can be available however choose not to take on a project. So incorporating this into a smooth and fast matching process is also important.

How do you find the right person?
The legal industry is traditionally conservative, and similar to online medicine—heavily dependent on generating trust. Finding a lawyeryou want to work with is very different to finding someone to design your logo —where the worst case scenario is that you get a bad logo. Whereas with law, the worst case is that a deal goes horribly wrong, or that you go to jail. General Counsels are also usually more advanced in their careers and usually less tech savvy than the new generation of legal consumers. All this needs to be taken into account by a technologist who understands the legal industry.

What are some top-of-mind trends in the legal talent arena at the moment?
The fight over talent is here, which I have been predicting for a while. As [alternate legal service providers] are mushrooming across the globe, everyone is trying to attract the best talent—as we are all as good as our talent is. The rush to provide what the old law firm used to provide, [which is] community, access to know-how, timely payment, is flooding the market. More and more lawyers are hemorrhaging from Big Law, more clients are demanding quality alternatives to law firms, and ALSPs are coming in to fill that vacuum.

What advice would you offer organizations seeking to hire who legal talent?
I would advise ALSPs starting off to have boots on the ground in the jurisdictions where they wish to offer talent. With all the tech in the world, you still need an intimate knowledge of the local legal landscape to really attract and recruit the best quality talent.

You mentioned that new startups should bootstrap as long as possible —why?
Bootstrapping as long as possible avoids a critical mistake of raising money and pouring it into the black hole of development before you know exactly what the business need is. You can land up with a Rolls Royce in the garage. First bootstrap, figure out your real need and have the map ready before you start any development.

What are the pros and cons of bootstrapping?
The main pro is that you can withdraw a comfortable salary if you raise early. The con is … the risk of landing up with a lot less equity and less than great tech.