Kula – ‘Shopify for Lawyers’ – Joins Y Combinator

Kula, which enables lawyers to leave their firms and create their own businesses, has joined the renowned Y Combinator incubator and received investment from it.

The startup, which was founded by Nelson Jones, CEO, and Saaras Mehan, CTO, said it can best be described as a kind of ‘Shopify for lawyers’, i.e. a platform that enables a lawyer to create their own firm, find other lawyers they want to work with or perhaps even hire, as well as helping to develop a pipeline of potential clients.

The idea is that Kula is not another ‘lawyers on demand’ or ‘lawyer temping agency’ initiative, but rather a support for those who want to branch out on their own, especially lawyers who are still very much in their prime, but who want to break away from the Big Law environment and take back control of their professional lives while still handling interesting work at a high level and earning a good living.

They can operate as solos, or if they want to build a new niche firm, Kula can help them to do that.

So far lawyers from Allen & Overy, Carey Olson, Clifford Chance, Credit Suisse, IBM, K&L Gates, Fish & Richardson, and Slaughter and May have worked with Kula to get themselves set up.

On the remuneration point, lawyers working with Kula get to keep the vast majority of their revenue, rather than spending it on running costs as is the case in most law firms.

Naturally, it’s a trade-off. Working in a large firm gives you several benefits, but also creates challenges. Kula’s aim is to help those who want to do their own thing, but who still want some of the support and business development capabilities they would have in a traditional firm.

Artificial Lawyer asked Jones some more about the company:

– Where did the idea of Kula come from? 

The idea for Kula came from lawyers. Kula used to be a marketplace: we matched clients to lawyers in return for a fee. But, lawyers kept asking us for two things:

1.     Introductions to other lawyers, as potential co-counsel or full-time hires,    

2.     More client leads with the right profile.

We asked the lawyers: why? They told us these two problems were the main roadblocks between them and realising their dream of a law firm with their name on the door. 

We realised that if we solved these problems, we could enable lawyers to take back control of their professional lives and set up their own law firms.

– What does Kula offer lawyers? 

Kula connects lawyers to the right clients and the right lawyers. We help lawyers win interesting business, hire other lawyers, and provide a holistic service to clients on complex matters.

We also automate manual work like scheduling and matter tracking, so Kula lawyers receive calls booked into their diaries, within the flow of the normal working day. 

– What does Kula offer the end clients?

We match clients to the right lawyer(s). At present, this functionality is in private beta, so only accessible through referrals.

This results from a unique level of integration with our customer law firms (i.e. those that have joined Kula). As a result, we can match clients to lawyers with unparalleled accuracy and convenience, according to skillset, availability, and even personal fit! Other services only match on the basis of skillset alone. As a result, clients often get matched with lawyers who are too busy to serve them, or have never worked with the right industry. 

– Why do you think the legal market is changing? 

The pandemic has changed the relationship between the legal profession and law firms.

Many lawyers, especially at larger firms, have had to work harder than ever before to deal with increased demand. While being busy is welcome, this also has led to a general feeling of losing control of their professional lives, largely because the demands of a large commercial law firm cannot easily be negotiated with. In short, you either work in the way the firm wants you to, or you have to leave. However, until recently many lawyers were unsure how to make that leap.

Now, lawyers are taking back control, by setting up their own law firms with Kula and breaking up with Big Law. 

[ Note – Full Disclosure: Tromans Consulting has advised this company. ]