Tuesday 21 November 2017

Legalshine: making light work of paying bills

Legalshine founder Ian Nolan, right, with Ireland rugby player Jamie Heaslip
Legalshine founder Ian Nolan, right, with Ireland rugby player Jamie Heaslip
Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

IF you work in the legal profession, or better still, if you work in the legal department of a major bank or other multinational, you will be very familiar with these two words: billable hours.

The cost of employing a legal team is enormous at every level of business, whether you are an SME or a huge firm.

In absolute terms though, the big money is at the top of the market where companies can hire numerous law firms and the costs can be huge.

For a company, the difficulty is clear. How can you tell for sure that a lawyer spent eight hours preparing a brief that may have only taken five or six? At a cost of hundreds of euro an hour, these numbers can make a huge difference.

This is where Legalshine comes in.

Set up by Ian Nolan last year, Legalshine uses software to help collate legal bills and other legal costs into one hub.

This in turn allows companies to identify more cost savings than if all bills were paid separately.

For example, it allows businesses to see clearly that one law firm is charging more than another for similar work, or spot that two different parts of the company are using two firms to carry out the same tasks.

Mr Nolan started the business on an ad hoc basis before last Christmas prior to formally launching it this year. Mr Nolan has aimed his project squarely at the top end of the market, making it available for companies with legal costs of more than €1m per year.

"We are launching a trial with six major firms later this year," he says.

"Those companies include banks, an insurance firm, and a major multinational based here.

"There are some legal technology firms who have done things in the US in terms of covering costs, but the difference with us is the fact that we can produce the data without firms having to change the form of their bills.

"Companies in this space already generally demand that the law firms submit their bills in standardised forms and so on.

"Our semantic software means we can 'read' the bills and take out the relevant information.

"We then use big data and text analysis to collate the costs into a simple form."

At the moment Legalshine has five staff, three of which are developers. While starting in Ireland, Mr Nolan makes it clear he has broader horizons.

Assuming the trial goes according to plan, he will bring the company to the UK and continental Europe, and fairly quickly too.

The company has been boosted by the NDRC Launchpad programme and received more funding when it won the NDRC's "Lift Off" event last month.


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