Big Four Firm PwC Joins Legal Tech Incubator Club With ‘Scale’

Big Four firm, PwC, is set to launch Scale LawTech, a 10-week incubator programme for legal tech companies looking to rapidly grow – making it the latest and one of the largest organisations to run such a project.

The new incubator, or perhaps it’s better to see this as an accelerator given the focus on scaling up, will start 7th May and be based in London. Although PwC already has a significant legal arm, this is part of the SME group at the Big Four firm and runs in parallel with a number of other Scale projects in other sectors, such as Commerce and InsurTech.

The programme has three core components to help you to scale your business:

  • ‘Our curated events give founders the opportunity to meet and pitch to an extended network of industry decision makers to drive commercial opportunities.
  • Group masterclasses provide insights through a combination of PwC and industry experts, as well as learning from shared peer experiences.
  • Individual support, including coaching, business support and other bespoke advice leaves your entire business fit to scale.’

It’s also worth noting that PwC is asking for ‘a programme fee’ of £7,500, which is interesting. PwC also says they will not be taking any equity.

One could therefore see this almost as a mini-MBA, rather than an incubator, although it also shares similarities with other programmes for legal tech startups in the market.

The cohort members should be announced soon. More details can be seen in the graphic directly below for what will happen:

The PwC legal tech Scale programme. Note the bit about joining the alumni community once you finish. That’s a BIG alumni group.

But, should companies join in? Artificial Lawyer understands that some legal tech companies are still in decision-making mode as whether to join this year.

Here’s some thoughts:

  • The kudos of joining a PwC programme cannot be overlooked. If you’re a startup or scale-up, then working with a Big Four firm and its partners can only be helpful when you go to market looking for funding.
  • Feedback on your product from a group of seasoned professionals can also only be of assistance.
  • The potential to meet clients is also a huge bonus, especially if your startup is looking to work with larger entities, as PwC has a client list few can compete with.
  • You’re going to be joining something of a mini-MBA educational course in business growth run by a firm that knows a lot about business management.
  • Is this going to be all about working hand in hand with a small group of lawyers so you can test out your tech in huge detail and iterate it? It appears that there will be some of this, but it feels like this is probably not for companies that are at a very early stage in terms of product development.
  • Overall, this seems to be a good fit for companies that are ready now to grow rapidly, i.e. to scale up, but need some additional support and professional mentoring to do so – as well as perhaps some introductions to great potential clients beyond the legal world, i.e. corporates. That is to say, although product feedback will be part of this, it’s the business side of things that really seems to be of greatest value here – largely because PwC is a broad business advisory firm, as opposed to only focusing on the law and legal work.
  • Of course, 10 weeks – even if meetings are sporadic – is a big commitment. The fee, plus travel and lodging costs if coming from outside the UK are not insignificant. This is clearly not a ‘freebie’ that PwC is offering. But, arguably one could say that the costs are a hurdle that means only those really serious about the programme will get involved.
  • 10 weeks in a programme that doesn’t fit you could be a big diversion. For any startup it seems unlikely that any incubator would be a waste of time, but founders do need to consider where they put their time. For example, if you’ve received some early stage funding and want to keep to a business plan then almost three months, perhaps working out of a location far from your HQ, could slow you down.

To conclude, if you have a clear idea about what you are trying to achieve by doing an incubator/accelerator and that this fits into your business plan, then Scale and others like it may be a huge benefit.

And, of course, being part of any such project is a huge opportunity to learn, grow and network. It’s really like going back to school again, but this time taking your business with you. 

Or, as PwC concludes: ‘It takes a certain type of person to run and grow a business. Determined, entrepreneurial and at times demanding. If that’s you, then you are the type of business that we love to work with. We can help you spot opportunities for growth, manage risk, save money and create value, and will work with you to put all of the pieces together.’

But, here’s one last point: are there enough legal tech startups out there to fill all the incubators and innovation spaces of MDR LAB, A&O’s FUSE, Slaughter and May’s Collaborate, LexisNexis’ US-based accelerator and more? The short answer is: yes. There are dozens of legal tech companies out there. The challenge they face is how to use their time wisely.

More info on what PwC is providing for those who join the programme.