Johnson Hana: Using AI to cut down legal costs

2 Dec 2022

From left: Johnson Hana co-founder and CEO Dan Fox, CFO Paul Ryan, legal solutions team MD Sinead Garnett, and co-founder and CCO Alex Fox. Image: Johnson Hana

With a €10.5m funding boost and a perceived lack of Irish competition, Johnson Hana CEO Dan Fox said the company’s current focus is ‘growth, growth, growth’.

Dublin-based company Johnson Hana is on a mission to offer a “better way” for legal services to be handled in Ireland.

The company is an alternative legal services provider (ALSP), which focuses on the process-heavy side of legal work rather than legal advice.

Using a combination of lawyers, its platform and artificial intelligence, Johnson Hana says it can help accurately forecast costs and deadlines while reducing the legal spend of its clients by up to 50pc.

Speaking to, co-founder and CEO Dan Fox said ALSPs began to get traction after the 2008 crash, when companies looked at cutting legal spending and increasing efficiency.

“You can see in the US and the UK in particular, there’s lots of companies and even law firms who are beginning to adopt the ALSP model and partner with companies like this,” Fox said.

The global ALSP market grew to an estimate $13.9bn for legal services by the end of 2019, according to a report last year by Thomson Reuters. This report also suggests that 79pc of law firms and 71pc of corporations now use ALSPs.

Despite the growth in this sector, Johnson Hana claims to be the only ALSP operating in Ireland. It has taken on some big clients since its founding in 2017, including Airbnb, Wayflyer, Twitter, Ryanair and Ervia.

The company is also poised to grow further, as it recently raised €10.5m in a funding round led by AIB. This round saw the bank take a minority stake in Johnson Hana.

Transparency through technology

Besides the legal experts working for the company, Fox said its success also stems from its technology, which includes a platform that aims to “inject transparency back into legal work streams”.

“One of the biggest challenges that corporate legal departments have faced for decades is the fact that they don’t know what work is being done and how much it’s ultimately going to cost,” Fox said. “For us, it’s always been about telling people in real time, through the platform that we’ve developed, how many hours are being put in, forecasting the hours that we believe are required to get the project completed.

“Something as small as that makes a really meaningful difference to legal departments. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but it is doing something very different in terms of what people’s experience has been.”

Fox said Johnson Hana also uses AI to help reduce the amount of human labour involved in legal processes. While this doesn’t eliminate the need for human talent and review, Fox said it works to “diminish the scale of input required”.

Fox said Johnson Hana works with a number of companies to provide AI technology for its clients, including software company Kira Systems and Reveal Data.

Expansion plans

When asked about the company’s plans for the future, Fox summed up the overall goal as “growth, growth, growth”.

Johnson Hana currently has around 200 staff, which includes its core team and a large group of contract lawyers that work various hours each week. Fox said he plans to grow the team to 500 by the end of 2023.

The company already operates in multiple countries including Germany, the UK, the US and South Africa, with plans to open offices in the US and UK.

“The Johnson Hana model is working really well and what we’re doing now is doubling down on what’s been working,” Fox said. “I’ve got people internally who are saying that it’s potentially too ambitious. But we’ve never been accused of being unambitious.

“I think it’s going to be a stretch, but I still believe we can do it.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic