Sky News Exclusive: Nnamdi & Feargus Interviewed on Business Live with Ian King
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Sky News Exclusive: Nnamdi & Feargus Interviewed on Business Live with Ian King

Watch the full interview below

This interview was originally broadcast on May 24th 2024 on Sky News' Business Live with Ian King.

Transcript

Ian King: "A LegalTech solution that started out with the aim of helping people with visual impairments to navigate legal documents is now being used by law firms around the world. Definely was founded by two lawyers, one of whom is registered blind. It has just raised $7 million in its latest funding round. I've been speaking to its founders, Nnamdi Emelifeonwu and Feargus MacDaeid, about how it all started."

Feargus MacDaeid: "It initially started out as a solution to help me when I met Nnamdi at Freshfields; in terms of accessing relevant information in a way that was going to be efficient and meaningful, because when I was doing the work, with my disability, I was trying to complete the same tasks that other solicitors were doing. But for me, because of my disability and the fact that I use assistive technology, that problem was much more acute.

So Nnamdi and I started sitting down and talking about, "Well, what would an ideal solution look like for me?" It just turned out that the ideal solution for me happened to be something that would help lawyers everywhere, because, at the end of the day, there were still the same tasks that everybody does. So for example, when you're reading and reviewing a legal contract, there are certain things that you must always look for or go through when you're trying to make sense of a provision within that contract. E.g., you're always looking for your defined terms, your cross references and other clauses.

And I suppose the problem for me was that in order to accomplish that task, I was always losing the position that I was in on the document. Some of these documents are huge; there would be like 100 and 200 pages and you could be on page 130, and all of a sudden you're having to go back to the beginning of the document to look up the meaning of a defined term, or you have to scroll down further or CTRL+F. Or, a lot of lawyers generally would have the copy printed out on the table beside them, and they would just reference that.

So, what Nnamdi and I really recognised is that there are certain patterns to how this information was set out in the documents; and I think once that penny dropped with us, that was when we went to prototype it and then go, actually, “This is something that really works.” But fundamentally, and I think the reason why the product has been so popular is that it's actually not something that solves a pain point for me, but it solves a pain point for every lawyer. I think what you end up with is this kind of classic design scenario where when you actually solve some problem for the edges, you get the whole middle for nothing with it. I hope that deals with that."

Ian: "You've raised $7 million in this funding round. How will you be putting that to use?"

Nnamdi Emelifeonwu: "So a few things. I think just continuous R&D. We've got a suite of products which we sell to law firms and in-house teams globally, so continuing to innovate there. Within technology right now, there's a really relevant confluence between law and technology and there's a lot of innovation going on in this space. So we're hoping to double down and continue to improve our tech stack. As well as expansion; we work with law firms around the world, in Australia, North America, Asia, and Europe; and we also have a global team. We want to continue to grow our team and particularly the US we’ve earmarked as a place of potential for growth."

Ian: "I think I'm right in saying you received seed funding from Microsoft and Google. Have they participated in the latest funding round?"

Nnamdi: "They've (Microsoft and Google) been extremely useful to us over the years. They've given us advice. They've given us credits for key developments we've had to do, and they've given us, very importantly, mentoring and other types of advice. So the help that they've given us has greatly assisted us and got us to where we are. They didn't actually participate in this round, but we have a very good ongoing relationship with both firms."

Ian: "The LegalTech sector is getting pretty crowded with the likes of Robin AI, who we've had on this programme in the past. Do you think you can withstand that competition? Is there enough of the market for everyone?"

Nnamdi: "Absolutely. Feargus you may want to talk to this?"

Feargus: "Yeah, I think there's plenty of room in the market. When you're looking at the way technology is evolving at the moment, really since you have the advent of the language model and its capabilities and what it brings to what is ultimately a linguistic field, the door has just really opened up; and there are many and multiple use cases. I think there's plenty of room for innovation still within the actual tech sector. When you look, let's say at what we're doing, for example, we're not doing what Robin AI do. We do something completely different to them; but, we're leveraging what we already have, and we're incorporating the Generative AI aspects into that offering that we already give people so that we're able to take what we've done and just build on that and enhance that and make it even better. 

I suppose at the end of the day, the solution isn't going to be, even though I know Generative AI is the buzzword, the ultimate solution is not going to be a pure Generative AI solution. I think it'll be a combination of ML, DL, some heavy NLP work, and a GenAI component to it. People are just kind of working out those use cases still, so there's huge room for innovation."

Nnamdi: "One thing to add just from a personal perspective, I'm very excited about a lot of what you're seeing right now. When we first started and came up with the idea for this business, you didn't see as much excitement about the legal space yet alone the LegalTech space. So to see the plethora of startups that have come in into this space, that's actually really exciting and helps grow the market for all of us. So I think there's plenty of pie there for everybody."

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