Big Money for Cheap Legal Services
Just months after raising $18.5 million, online legal service Rocket Lawyer has pulled in another $10.8 million.
The San Francisco start-up's products, used by hundreds of small businesses, include free, interactive legal templates that users can adapt to specific legal needs, save, and share. Rocket Lawyer also offers a web-based subscription service that provides help with more advanced legal problems and access to actual lawyers, plus flat rates for legal filings such as name changes or corporate restructuring.
The funding is another endorsement of the fast-growing online legal market: Rocket Lawyer competitor Legal Zoom raised $66 million in July. (Among LegalZoom's founders: Robert Shapiro, aka the celebrity lawyer who was part of O.J. Simpson's legal team.)
"Traditional lawyers may not like it, but venture capitalists are pouring money into one of the last industries to commit commoditization on the web," Fred Ury of business law firm Ury & Moskow told The Connecticut Law Tribune. "Can I get venture capital? No. LegalZoom did $60 million in business last year."
Rocket Lawyer has doubled revenue for four years straight to more than $20 million in 2011. The company also expects to double its employees in 2012, as it did in 2011. Current headcount: 70.
Industry Ventures provided the whole $10.79 million in December 2011, according to the Form D CEO Daniel Nye filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The money brings Rocket Lawyer's total funding to about $43 million. Its previous investors include Google Ventures and Lexis-Nexis.
Founder Charley Moore told the San Francisco Business Times the company had served more than 20 million people last year and that traffic had surged since December, when the company started allowing users to download documents for free without entering a credit card number. (The company doubled its visitors between September 2010 and September 2011.) “It’s big numbers. It won’t be long before we hit a million documents,” Moore said.
The company will be launching new products later this month and in March. One hint: Moore said the company is “excited about mobile and we’re also very excited about our electronic signature service.”
Inc. contributing editor Courtney Rubin was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.