By LE Desk
April 22: US-based online legal service Rocket Lawyer has raised $223 million of financing from an investor group led by Vista Credit Partners to further its international expansion and make acquisitions in what is a fragmented market, Fortune magazine reported.
The company, which has 25 million registered users, already offers online legal documents and virtual attorney meetings to businesses and individuals in the U.S., U.K. and parts of Europe. Customers pay $40 monthly for a subscription or for individual documents, from $40 for a simple living will to $100 for an incorporation filing.
CEO Charley Moore, who practiced law in Silicon Valley before founding Rocket Lawyer in 2008, says the idea for the business was simple. Why couldn’t regular people “get the kind of access to great legal counsel and tools that well-funded, venture-backed companies and rich people could get,” he told Fortune.
The San Francisco-based company’s first online document was a form for a living will. Now it has over 1,000 online documents available, with counsel from a Rocket Lawyer attorney.
Rocket Lawyer is among a host of legal startups attracting money from venture capitalists looking to disrupt the staid legal profession. Last year, Everlaw, which helps lawyers sort and search vast amounts of digital documentary evidence, raised $62 million from investors including Google parent Alphabet. Verbit, an A.I.-powered courtroom transcription service, raised $91 million in two rounds of fundraising. And Notarize, which offers online notary services, raised $35 million.
Rocket Lawyer, which has raised about $50 million in prior rounds of venture capital, faces competition both from traditional law firms and other online companies like LegalZoom and UpCounsel, Fortune said.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to online legal services, just as it fuelled e-commerce and video streaming. “With a pandemic, the need for completely digital solutions for justice has never been more acute, when you can’t have physical presence,” CEO Moore says. “We saw real acceleration, that isn’t going to go back the other way. Not just regular people, but companies and governments have started really depending on digital, legal transactions that don’t require physical presence.”
Rocket lawyer is profitable and growing at “very nice clip,” Moore says while declining to get more specific. For the past few years, the fastest growing part of the business has been convincing large and medium-sized businesses to offer Rocket Lawyer as a benefit to their employees.
The killing of George Floyd alarmed Moore, who has three sons. As a way to offer aid, Moore added a new function to Rocket Lawyer’s mobile app called Rocket Evidence. Any user can upload video footage they’ve taken or found that may show evidence of a crime and get a consultation with lawyers at the company.
“Increasingly, video evidence has become an essential critical part of justice and the process of justice,” he said. Rocket Lawyer attorneys review all uploads. “You can make your problem our problem,” Moore told Fortune. “If you have a claim, someone will help you with that claim, again, using that as video evidence. And that was absolutely done in reaction to it the murder of Mr. Floyd by a government agent in broad daylight.”