Priori Legal, a platform that uses data to help companies hire diverse lawyers, has raised $6.3 million in a funding round that includes an investment from an arm of Big Law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
Launched in 2013 by Yale Law School classmates Basha Rubin and Mirra Levitt, Priori says it uses data on lawyers and their experiences to vet a network of more than 1,500 attorneys. Companies can use the data to find lawyers or law firms with the type of experience they are looking for, or who match characteristics they are seeking through diversity programs.
Priori is a tech-powered version of a more traditional lawyer staffing company. Its use of data to quantify lawyers’ experience makes it one of a few companies angling to displace more conventional legal buying metrics such as law firm brands or law school prestige.
But Priori’s use of data doesn’t go as far as some legal tech startups, like patent appeals-focused Ex Parte Inc., who want to predict legal outcomes.
Priori says the amount of work doled out on its platform has risen 200% in the past year, driven by clients seeking less expensive lawyers and looking for new ways to increase the diversity of outside counsel. It says it saves clients 60% on the price of lawyers and 80% of the time it takes to hire them.
Priori’s network of lawyers are accessed through a technology portal that includes a request for proposal (RFP) process and handles billing and invoicing. Clients pay Priori for its matchmaking and billing services.
The company will use the money to grow its sales and marketing team, expand its attorney network globally and to larger firms, and to increase the use of data throughout its platform, Levitt said in an interview.
The law has historically struggled to retain and promote women and diverse lawyers. Women made up 24% of law firm equity partners in 2019, and a mere 9.5% are people of color, according to the National Association for Law Placement, Inc., which tracks lawyers’ employment.
Priori allows lawyers to identify as part of minority groups, which Rubin said helps clients find diverse lawyers and send job opportunities their way.
“There just isn’t that type of data out there, and while the larger firms are engaged in productive ways to make data available about themselves, it’s much harder for smaller firms,” Rubin said in an interview.
The investors include Hearst Corp., Great Oaks Venture Capital, and a number of legal industry veterans including Tim Steinert, the former general counsel of Alibaba Group, and Bridge Investments, whose venture partner, Mike Suchsland, is the former president of Thomson Reuters Legal Business.
Orrick’s Legal Technology Fund, which the Big Law firm launched in 2018, is also investing in Priori. The firm’s tech fund invests up to $250,000 in legal technology companies the firm often uses as a beta customer.