Lawtrades, like other businesses that have embraced contract labor, is allowing legal practitioners to become self-employed and establish their own virtual law firms. Raad Ahmed and Ashish Walia founded the company in 2016 with an initial focus on startups and small enterprises, hoping to establish product-market fit (as one does), but discovering that legal usage among small businesses was often project-based, sporadic, and short-term if the company folded.
According to Ahmed, the company’s business took off after it switched to dealing with mid-market and enterprise-level corporations by selling into legal departments in 2019. Lawtrades now collaborates with businesses like Doordash, Gusto, and Pinterest to provide a marketplace of experts that can be hired remotely and with flexibility. Professionals and businesses can use the platform’s technologies to build profiles, matched to opportunities, track projects, and pay for services.
“Ultimately, we’re starting with legal because it’s a $100 billion business that hasn’t been impacted much in the last century,” Ahmed added. He and Walia sought to create a hiring experience that was distinct from that of LinkedIn, where firms would have to sift through hundreds of applications to identify the handful who were qualified. Unlike law firms, which have overhead and other firm costs that are often integrated into billable hours, professionals can provide a flat pricing structure.
It completed on a $6 million Series investment, led by Four Cities Capital, with participation from Draper Associates and 500 Startups, after doubling revenue in 2021. Nearly 100 consumers, angel investors, and company founders participated in the round, including Gumroad’s Sahil Lavingia, Teachable’s Ankur Nagpal, and GoDaddy’s Aman Bhutani. “We’re cash-flow positive and leveraging revenue-based financing, so we didn’t have to conduct a major dilutive stock rising since the world is now accepting remote legal work and more lawyers are leaving big law firms to work for themselves,” Ahmed added.
Lawtrades has 80 customers on the platform and 150 active conversations at the end of 2021. On the talent side, over 1,000 profiles have been created, up from 400 by the end of 2020. It now operates on an invite-only basis, with just 5% of those who apply being accepted. Sixty percent of the network’s members are women, and more than one-third are minorities. According to Ahmed, the company’s revenue run rate was $8 million in December, up from $3 million at the start of 2021. To date, the network has earned more than $11 million on the platform, with over 60,000 hours of work logged in 2021, a 200 percent increase over 2020.
Ahmed intends to use the fresh funds to rebrand the company, develop an iOS app, expand into new professional categories such as finance and management consulting, and establish a global presence. He also plans to increase the number of employees at Lawtrades from 15 to 30 across product, support, and sales. He went on to say, “The world of labor is in a unique position.” “Individuals are working remotely, and firms are hiring, so it’s a talent battle, with the best people getting the best offers.” With our model, the individual has the power to choose the type of work they wish to accomplish. That is how we are able to attract incredible people and then find firms willing to hire them. We’re iterating on the 40-hour workweek and pushing its limits.”