Tech Start-up of the Week: MyLegalDiary

19 Jul 2014

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Pictured: Colin Hayes, co-founder, MyLegalDiary

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Our tech start-up of the week is MyLegalDiary, a court-tracking tool that saves legal professionals in Ireland and overseas vital time and effort by sending them information via email alerts.

The company, headed by Colin Hayes, was started last year and has more than 350 subscriptions that covers 70pc of the top law firms in Ireland.

It has already created four new jobs and has spawned a spin-out company called MyLegalAudit (MLA).

“For the benefit of the non-lawyer, we basically reverse the process of litigators needing to actively seek information about High Court cases and court lists by bringing this information to them in the form of email alerts,” explained Hayes.

“This system is somewhat comparable to the system of tracking Company Registration Office filings, a service hugely popular in the corporate world.”

The market

MyLegalDiary is targeting a market of 2,500 law firms that includes over 12,000 solicitors. It is also looking at the UK legal market which is comprised of 30,000 firms and over 140,000 solicitors.

“We are looking to the UK market and further afield to establish a requirement for this product in other jurisdictions.

“We launched last year and have 350 subscription accounts,” Hayes explained.

“Our users are spread over 100 firms throughout the 32 counties.

“This has been achieved without any capital investment and with a minimal marketing budget. We find the biggest challenge is to get our product out there, once litigators know about it they quickly realise the benefits.

“We estimate we have penetrated about one sixth of our target market.”

The technology

MyLegalDiary is built upon an SQL database with some 9m pieces of information updated daily. All emails and text alerts are automated.

Hayes says MyLegalDiary benefits litigators in a number of ways:

“It saves them time insofar as current practice requires litigators to find out for themselves when certain cases are going to be heard. They waste a lot of time looking for Court Lists that may not have even been published.

“It gives them advanced notice of court filings where those filings will be subsequently served on them, allowing them time to prepare.

“It gives them notice of filings that will not be served on them.

“Our database has a search facility that is far superior to that found on the Courts Services web-site. Overall subscribers save time, and therefore money, and reduce risk in their practice.”

Progress and overcoming obstacles

Hayes, who comes from a technology and sales background, established a chain of mobile phone stores which he sold to Vodafone in 2004. His partner in the start-up is a qualified solicitor with over 20 years of experience.

“We launched last year and have 350 subscription accounts. Our users are spread over 100 firms throughout the 32 counties. This has been achieved without any capital investment and with a minimal marketing budget.

“We find the biggest challenge is to get our product out there, once litigators know about it they quickly realise the benefits. We estimate we have penetrated about one sixth of our target market.”

Hayes says that having attracted customers from the top 20 law firms in Ireland turnover is on track to triple this year.

“We want to attract investment to ramp marketing and sales and proceed with our UK launch.”

The main challenge, he says, is that the sales cycle can be a slow process in an industry that is slow to embrace technology and often reluctant to change.

“However, the forthcoming Legal Services Bill should accelerate this.”

A vibrant start-up scene

Hayes describes the start-up scene in Ireland as vibrant and exciting and full of opportunities if you are willing to work hard.

“Our new Start up has created four new jobs. We have had some assistance from Wicklow County Enterprise Board but we are looking for funding to expand. We estimate the legal service market is worth €250m per annum in Ireland and stg£3BN in the UK.

“We have a spin-off company called Mylegalaudit (MLA) which provides a contingent liability search facility. Our target market includes accountants, insurance companies and banks.”

His advice to other start-ups is succinct: “Think big, keep it simple and look globally for opportunities.”

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com