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Legal tech firm Plexus gains inspiration from accounting

By Sonakshi Babbar For In The Black

02 October 2019

Originally published in In The Black
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Legal technology firm Plexus is inspired by the accounting experience to introduce digital transformation to legal services.

When it comes to technology adoption, traditional law firms not only offer resistance, but also an enormous potential for change, says Andrew Mellett, CEO of legal tech company Plexus.

From his time spent advising CFOs of large corporations throughout the Asia-Pacific and Europe, Mellett understood that traditional law firms were working with a broken model.

“My clients at ANZ and Telstra were happy with their accounting firms, but dissatisfied with the value proposition they were getting from traditional law firms,” Mellett says.

“At the same time, many of my friends – bright, young lawyers at top-tier law firms – were leaving jobs because they were unhappy with the employee value proposition,” he adds.

Mellett, a former director, Asia-Pacific strategy, finance and legal practice for NYSE-listed Corporate Executive Board, was prompted to ask what the law firm of the future could look like.

“We realised that a no-partnership model, leaner overheads, a platform that provides lawyers with better work–life balance and employee value proposition were key to a successful law firm,” he says.

In 2011, Mellett founded Plexus, a legal services firm based on a legal software-as-a-service model with a lawyer on hand to do the final quality assurance check.

The new model became so successful that it allowed the company to use its cash flow towards building a platform to re-engineer the process of doing legal tasks.

“We believed the best way to transform law would be through technology,” Mellett says.

In May 2019, Plexus raised A$4.65 million in Series-A funding led by KPMG, with participation from Aconex co-founders Rob Philpot and Leigh Jasper, and Grant Rule, co-founder and executive director of MessageMedia.

Disrupting the legal industry

“Our vision is to create the future of law,” says Mellett, who looked to the accounting profession, in particular, for inspiration.

“The legal industry can take the same path to digital transformation as the accounting industry has done successfully to solve business problems.”

Plexus’s legal automation platform, the Plexus Gateway, helps lawyers with contract management, automated workflows, detailed reporting and other tools to increase productivity.

The legal-tech software has a higher-than-average Net Promoter Score (NPS), a measure of customers’ overall satisfaction and loyalty with a product or service.

“The average NPS for a traditional law firm is 15, and ours is 84,” Mellett says. “This shows that technology and automation are the future of the legal industry.”

In addition to the software, Plexus also provides a self-service app for non-lawyers to create promotional terms and conditions in 24 hours. The app is built on complex decision logic, and the output is then reviewed by a lawyer.

Towards a global footprint

Mellett says the partnership with KPMG will give Plexus access to the global firm’s legal expertise and content which, “combined with our technology, will be a game changer and give unparalleled value to our clients”.

Plexus has established offices in London, Washington DC, Sydney and Melbourne, and plans to tap into KPMG’s network to expand further.

One piece of advice

“Always try to position your career around positive growth cycles: what’s going to make things easier. For example, we found in research conducted on 100 general counsels in Australia that enterprise investment in technology is growing by 111 per cent year on year, and investment in value centric legal services is growing by 43 per cent. That sort of growth makes it far easier.”

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