LawPivot is legal matchmaking made in heaven for startups. CEO Jay Mandal, the former lead mergers and acquisitions attorney at Apple, started LawPivot in 2009 with Nitin Gupta, the site’s Co-Founder, who was working as an intellectual property litigation lawyer in California. Gupta saw needs on both the startup and legal sides of business. First, bootstrapped startups are fundamentally adverse to high legal costs and it is often very difficult to find the right lawyer whether it be a corporate, IT or tax lawyer, likely impossible to find one that can handle all three. Second, he saw the effects of the recession putting a lot of corporate lawyers out of work and looking to build their book of business.
Enter LawPivot, a confidential, crowdsourced Quora style platform for legal issues. At LawPivot, a startup can draft a question in a confidential manner, attach a tag to that question and using a service called LP Recommendation, LawPivot will recommend the top 10 lawyers to answer. Startups can read up on the recommended lawyers, and will receive approximately 3 different responses within 24-48 hours. These services are free on LawPivot, but only until the end of the month. It’s likely that beginning in April, LawPivot will start charging startups either per question or a monthly fee. So get busy asking your questions now.
Lawyers use the site to connect with companies that they can impress. And when lawyers respond back to companies in a timely fashion, they get points. The points act like a reputation measurement that lawyers can use to build their credit online. Points are measured using LawPivot’s search algorithm, which tracks their behaviors on the site such as how fast and how many times they’ve answered questions compared to the number of questions received.
“In addition to personally vetting each and every lawyer that comes onto LawPivot, this data allows us to determine and keep track of the quality of lawyers on our network,” says Gupta. He also suggests that Quora will soon be implementing user rankings in a similar fashion.
The site is currently open to California lawyers, California companies and companies that have Californian based legal issues. Both companies and lawyers have to request have to request invitations to the site at this time. While LawPivot plans on expanding in the next couple months based on demand, Gupta says they currently have hundreds and hundreds of lawyers, many from the biggest firms in Silicon Valley.
A startup in its own right, the company was founded in November 2009 and officially launched in August in 2010. Since then, operations have been flowing. Just two months ago, they received $600,000 in funding from Google Ventures and a handful of angels. Working with Google Ventures has been an incredibly positive experience for the team as they work around the clock on Google’s campus in its startups labs with support from everything from public relations to user interface and product development.
So don’t get screwed two years after launch because you forgot to fill out some nitty-gritty legal form. Seeking legal advice is good advice for any company. A friend of mine always jokes, “If Mark Zuckerberg had the right legal advice, Eduardo Saverin wouldn’t be an accidental billionaire.”