Starting a Start-Up Miniseries: Episode 3 – Breaking into the London Legal Tech Ecosystem

It takes plenty of hustle to cut through the noise and be noticed. And for a non-lawyer from the other side of the planet,  Guy Stern, had his work cut out for him when he moved to London in 2019.

In the third  episode of our 4 part  “Starting a Start-Up” Miniseries, our host Rob Hanna hears from Guy Stern, Founder of Legal Connection  about his best tips & tricks for building a brand and how you can break into the London legal tech ecosystem.


[0:00:00.0] Rob Hanna: Welcome to the Legally Speaking Podcast powered by Kissoon Carr. I’m your host Rob Hana. Today I’m delighted to be joined by Guy Stern, where we’ll be talking about the episode on breaking into the London Legal Tech Ecosystem as part of our miniseries, starting a start-up. So, welcome back Guy!

[0:00:20.6] Guy Stern: Great to be here. I feel like we’re becoming old friends now, third week in a row.

[0:00:24.8] Rob Hanna: There we go, there we go. Great friends indeed. So, look last week you were talking about the idea in the first steps and what it takes to kind of get that through, and you lot – taught a lot around sort of the hustle and getting noticed and making noise. So, let’s sort of talk a little bit more about that because you’re all over my LinkedIn.

I think your speaking at every event, you’re even appearing on the panel by the economist. So, how did you make all of that happen?

[0:00:50.6] Guy Stern: Like you said, this is a podcast about just giving out all the secrets if I can do it, hopefully I can share how I got there. I arrived in London in – first in 2018 at the Legal Geek conference, very overwhelmed by all the big personalities and all the people doing so much work that began in Legal Tech.

I didn’t ever imagine that I myself would be, yeah interviewed on podcast and on panels from the economist and so on. What I did is firstly I signed up for literally every single event that had the word Legal in it. If there were free drinks, free food, or even none of the above, I was there.

For my business part, I spoke to people and I gave my little spiel, “I’m Guy, I’m from South Africa. I’ve created a little app; we won the Access to Justice challenge. Can I come to your office and have a coffee?” And I built relationships. It sounds so strange to say this now after six months of COVID and all we do is virtual.

[0:01:43.9] Rob Hanna: Great stuff. And let’s talk about the SRA, because you know, what about the SRA? You seem to have them all your events. Was that difficult to organize? And talk us through that process.

[0:01:54.6] Guy Stern: Yeah, for sure. So, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, they obviously regulate overall hundred and forty thousand lawyers across England and Wales. It obviously looks really good if we could say, you know we’re on a webinar and we’re next to the SRA, it sort of makes us look good by association.

Again, this goes back to an evening that I was at Hogan Lovells for an access to justice event for a start-up contest that we didn’t win. We applied for it, but we didn’t win but we still went there and we still worked the room, I met two people from the SRA. I whipped out my phone in the five seconds that I thought I had.

I showed the product and said, “This is a product we built, we think it will be great for the future of law and so on. What do you think? Could we have a coffee with you?” And they said, “Sure, let’s put something in the diary.” And that was the beginning of a relationship, the SRA HR office in London, they sat down with us.

They were very serious about facilitating the freelance model of lawyers working for themselves and then lawyers collaborating. And the product that we built just so happens to work really well in that world of lawyers working for themselves and connecting across their networks.

You know, we built sort of a LinkedIn of law and overlaid with the case management too. So, yeah. The SRA don’t officially sponsor or officially back any one company over another, but they were – have always been friendly since the first day we met and then always agreed to, you know, come on our podcast and our webinars.

It’s a good relationship and they are the regulators and they want to be seen as friendlier.

And so, they do it out of the goodness of their hearts and I recommend anyone who wants to deal with the SRA to reach out to them, they are quite approachable.

[0:03:27.2] Rob Hanna: Great stuff. And just sort of as we look to wrap up this Minisode, do you have any more advice for anyone looking to sort of break into this space?

[0:03:36.1] Guy Stern: Yeah. You know, something resonated with me. What is the name of that podcast, the thing – the one that you interviewed, that LinkedIn influencer? 

[0:03:46.3] Rob Hanna: Yes, Shay. Shay Rowbottom. Yeah, we had that one and yes.

[0:03:50.0] Guy Stern: What she said really resonated with me because it’s exactly what I did and it’s exactly what I do. Which is, I act like my most authentic self, I figure out what is me about me, what is Guy about Guy, and I really lean into this as much as possible. I don’t really apply the “Fake it till you make it” too much although there’s a little bit of that in it.

But I just want to be myself, I take photographs of myself and I share them, you know, last week or two weeks ago in the podcast that I took a behind the scenes a quick snapshot, and I shared that. That resonates the people, they want to see the story behind the story.

They want to see what’s peculiar about you, what’s weird about you, people like that kind of thing. And I think that in the legal profession there is sometimes an expectation that you need to act in a certain way, and you need to all stare and you need to be very serious. It’s when you just act like yourself that people really remember you.

So, yeah anyone listening to this, looking to break into those space as what you say, just be yourself and try and form sort of real human connections one by one. That’s worked for me and hopefully it will work for others. 

[0:04:52.4] Rob Hanna: No, but I love that. I know when we used to talk about sort of ABA, always be authentic. I think that’s what people craving, there’s where you’re going to build a long-term trusted valuable relationship as well. Thank you so much once again for joining us this week, Guy. You’ve shared a lot of tips there, and insights and taught us how to break into the London Legal Tech Ecosystem.

And I look forward to our final episode next week where we talk about the funding and how we will go about that for starting a start-up. So, thank you once again.

[0:05:17.6] Guy Stern: Oh no, that’s the hardest part. The funding.

[0:05:21.7] Rob Hanna: Well, we’ll look forward to chatting about all of that, so speak to you next week.

[0:05:25.2] Guy Stern: Looking forward to, thanks Robert.

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