Harvard Business School has made a rare new case study out of online legal marketplace Lexoo for its MBA program, in which students pore over the real life business decisions made by Lexoo co-founders Daniel Van Binsbergen and Chris O’Sullivan as the basis of discussion in its Managing Service Operations (MSO) course.
The MSO course sees students learn how to design sustainable service strategies, how to manage customers and employees, how to develop a cohesive service culture, how to fund service excellence, how to leverage big data to enhance performance, and how to reshape their organizations to suit evolving consumer needs and changing competitive landscapes. The last time the business school wrote a case study was four years ago on Riverview Law, which was acquired in August 2018 by EY.
Founded in 2014, Lexoo’s data-driven marketplace (its algorithms match the client and job spec) allows in-house lawyers to select law firms online from a global network. Lexoo’s clients compare and hire lawyers who bid competitively for their work and provide fixed fee quotes, incentivising them to work efficiently and giving clients cost certainty.
In 2018 it closed a $4.4M Series A financing round led by Earlybird and including Forward Partners (which led its funding round in 2015) and Ned Staple, general counsel at Zoopla Property Group, among others.
Speaking to Legal IT Insider at the time of that fundraising, Van Binsbergen, a former De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek associate, said: “We were initially focussed on SMEs but now our focus is the in-house market and we are going up against silver circle firms and giving in-house teams a significant saving – in one instance the quote from a silver circle firm was 800% more than Lexoo.”
The Lexoo case study involved three Harvard professors visiting Lexoo’s London offices and focusing on the decisions needed to start and then grow the company, in particular its decision to refocus from SMEs to the in-house legal market.
Van Binsbergen said: “It was very interesting to have hugely smart people looking at our data. Then they went through it all with their students to see if I’d made the right decision.”
The resulting hugely in-depth case study explains the various factors which have helped the legal marketplace model prosper, including the impact of the financial crisis on the pyramid model embraced by large law firms as well as deregulation and new technologies such as AI.
Interestingly the case study shows that lawyers are well placed to sell legal tech tools: “Two pieces of information seemed to be important in getting the attention of prospective customers. The first was the knowledge that Lexoo’s business development and operations teams were made of lawyers who themselves had practiced at well-known law firms prior to joining Lexoo. The second was a list of established companies who had previously used Lexoo,” it finds.
This is the abstract of the case study: “Daniel van Binsbergen, Lexoo’s CEO, and web developer Chris O’Sullivan, CTO, had set up Lexoo, a U.K. legal marketplace, to help small and medium enterprises (SME) to find legal advice at low prices. Lexoo had recently invested in a new vertical focused on larger companies. The latter had more repeated business and the value of their jobs was higher. Lexoo could become their “go-to” place across a broad range of legal needs. Nevertheless, they also required a more personalized approach. Van Binsbergen hesitated if Lexoo should increase its focus on the new vertical or not.”
You can find the case study here: