Tauranga software firm puts legal teams first

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Tauranga legal software company LawVu has been quietly building its client base, capacity and staff numbers in its central city offices as it looks well over the horizon for more business opportunities.

Founded by Sam Kidd and long-time local resident Tim Boyne, LawVu is a suite of software services aimed at increasing the productivity of in-house legal teams in large corporate entities and multinationals. The company was recently nudged into the national limelight with the announcement in early May that it has done a deal with a large, but as yet un-named social media company.

LawVu was born in 2015 when Tim Boyne took his 10 years’ experience working in the IT team for local legal firm Sharp Tudhope and joined with Kidd who had experience in a project management software startup.

“My experience at the law firm was that at the end of every month pulling together all the reports for the big company clients,” SAID Boyne. “It was incredibly painful on our side, and had to be repeated by the client. I thought there had to be an easier way to keep track of things.”

‘Go to’ productivity tool

Partnering with Kidd and being able to apply his experience from his project management software saw them develop what is becoming the “go to” productivity tool for in-house counsel.

The pair’s big break came when they landed Telstra as a client in Australia, a company with the largest in-house legal counsel in the Southern Hemisphere. Funding to expand has come from local investor Craig Wearne who liked the idea from the get-go.

LawVu recently secured $2.5 million of funding through a convertible notes offering, run by Australian venture capital company AirTree Ventures, supported by NZ Growth Capital Partners.

“Generally funding has not been too great an issue, we have always been able to convince investors about the value of what we are offering firms, and really it has been more of a case of waiting for the market to catch up to the idea,” said Boyne.

Boyne said the legal counsel sector has been largely unchanged over the past 20 years and has missed out on many of the digital productivity tools other sectors have benefitted from.

“For example, 15 percent of lawyers are tracking contractual obligations and deadlines on PostIt notes. Feedback we get is that having LawVu has helped significantly reduce wasted time for mundane tasks like document searching, meaning teams can focus on more higher value projects and activities.

“One city council saved 40 percent on their expenditure on outside counsel spend, while another firm’s team of lawyers saved an hour a day each by not having to search for documents in the usual way.”

The company has found Australia a good starting point as an overseas market, with firms generally being larger and two to three years ahead of their New Zealand equivalents in adopting new technology. But New Zealand clients include not only the big players of Zespri and Fonterra, but also LIC, Sky and Harcourts.

Revenue tripled

Last year despite Covid’s disruptions the company tripled its revenue and will be looking to further capital fund raising later this year in the US$10 million range as it continues to expand its Tauranga office base from its current 30 staff.

Boyne says if he had one wish for Tauranga city, it would be to see more of a hub develop around a cluster of tech-focused firms, helping reduce the region’s reliance upon its physical resources. “You need good companies to attract good people, particularly as more and more people have spouses, who may also wish to work here coming with them.”

Now with 70 staff spread around Tauranga and the world in offices in the US, Ireland and Australia, Boyne said there was no constraint being based here, and no plans to leave the city.

Australia is currently the company’s largest market, but the US beckons and the company is intent on becoming the “go to” option for in-house legal teams around the world. “We are all about landing and expanding at this stage.”

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