If you’re running a startup, you probably have to wrestle with plenty of legal questions, but hiring a law firm may be beyond your budget. That’s why a startup called LawPivot offers entrepreneurs a place where they can get their questions answered confidentially and for free (at least for now).
Google Ventures, Google’s startup investment arm, seems to think that the site is filling a real need — it just led LawPivot’s $600,000 seed round. LawPivot is also moving into the Google Startup Lab in Mountain View, Calif.
To use the service, startups just write their question, identify relevant legal keywords, then choose which lawyers to send the question to. Today, LawPivot is also unveiling its new recommendation algorithm, which takes data about users and trends to recommend which lawyer might be best suited to answer each question.
Q&A seems to be a hot area for startups right now, especially with the growing popularity of Q&A startup Quora. LawPivot isn’t shy about riding on Quora’s coattails, calling itself “Quora for legal”, but the LawPivot model is actually pretty different. Where Quora’s Q&A pages are open to the public, all your correspondence on LawPivot is private and confidential.
It’s pretty clear why a startup might want to use the site, but why are lawyers giving free advice? Vice president of business development and co-founder Nitin Gupta said it’s because they’re finding that the traditional ways for lawyers to network, such as speaking at conferences, are becoming less effective. Lawyers use LawPivot as a way to connect with potential clients, he said.
And that’s also where the startup might make money in the future. Like I said, the site is free for now, but Gupta said it might eventually charge both startups and lawyers. The startups might pay per month or per question, while lawyers might either pay to get into the service or for premium features.
LawPivot’s angel investors include Allen Morgan (formerly managing director of Mayfield Fund), Deep Nishar (a former Google executive who’s now at LinkedIn, plus a founding partner at AngelPad), Richard Chen (another former Google executive who’s a founding partner at AngelPad), Chris Yeh (an executive at PBworks), David Tisch (the managing director of TechStars NYC), and others.