Dec 20, 2021 • 4M

How I Started a Legal-Tech Startup

A conversation with Kamrul Khan for the Bengalis of New York podcast

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Raad on philosophy, startups, and life. On Twitter @r44d.
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Kamrul: I'd love for you to explain what Lawtrades is. You've never practiced law yourself, but you're catering to an industry of practitioners.

Raad: I think in the beginning, I viewed that as a weakness. But now I think that is one of the greatest things I could have not done—worked as a traditional lawyer.

All of my ideas were not tainted by how a law firm model should be or how lawyers should or shouldn't work. There weren’t all these preconceived notions about the legal industry.

I worked in public interest way more than private. I worked at The Legal Aid Society, I worked for the Texas Civil Rights Project and it was a very non-profit background that I had, but ultimately I knew I wanted to go into private practice if the startup didn't pan out or didn't succeed.

It just allowed me to think of it in very simple, baby terms. I graduated into one of the worst job markets within legal. How do I get lawyers paid? You're an independent lawyer. You might not have 10 years to build up your reputation and find clients over the course of the decade.

What if there was an internet platform that allowed lawyers to monetize their law degrees online from the comfort of their own homes while they're traveling. They set their own hours, and pick and choose their own clients. What if we found them a bunch of companies that wanted to hire them?

It's about 60 or 70% cheaper working with an independent lawyer than it is at a law firm. When you work at a law firm, or you're a company hiring them- you're paying an insane hourly rate because there's a bunch of partners at the top that are making millions of dollars a year in bonuses off the backs of associates who don't make as much money. You're paying into their fancy office on Park Avenue and all these other extras.

What if you got rid of all of that physical infrastructure. What if you got rid of partners that siphoned money at the top and restarted this work model by allowing a company to directly hire an independent lawyer in a really easy way by matching them with the exact location, practice area, price point- and then created an elegant experience for both sides to work together, pay each other, get on the same terms, and review each other.

You're ultimately creating a brand new work model. One that's based around freedom and flexibility for the lawyer, which is something I've always wanted. I had this weird background. I've never been able to stay with one job and I wanted to be my own boss. And I figured, there's a bunch of other lawyers that felt the same way.

Especially lawyers who worked in Big Law for eight to nine years that didn't end up making partner who are burned out and maybe want to start a family. So they want to work 35 hours a week, and are fine with that.

There's nothing that exists that allowed them to do that. Like a Shopify for lawyers. The initial seeding idea for Lawtrades was this type of marketplace platform. We predominantly sell to BigTech companies and help them scale up their legal departments by connecting them to a vetted network of freelance legal talent. So lawyers, paralegals, and contract admins spread all around the world.

It's been organically expanding beyond lawyers, but it took us a while to find product market fit. Now we essentially work with companies like Pinterest, DoorDash, Headspace, and Opendoor. They use our network of lawyers to scale up their operations.