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London Tech Week

Microsoft and Google-backed Definely snaps $7M to help lawyers easily understand legal contracts

Definely founders
Picture credits: Definely

Every lawyer needlessly spends time reviewing, drafting, and understanding legal documents. The process is unnecessarily complex, expensive, and time-consuming, and often leads lawyers to print 50-page contracts so that they can manually review and compare sections. Definely addresses this challenge and helps lawyers easily understand these contracts.

London-headquartered Definely, a legaltech startup, has secured $7 million in a Series A funding round. It was led by London-based Octopus Ventures (backed Harbiz and Flock), with participation from Cornerstone VC and Zrosk Investment Ltd. It also saw participation from well-known angels Claire Hughes Johnson, Comron Sattari, Ajay Patel, and Babatunde Soyoye join the cap table. Edward Keelan, partner at Octopus Ventures joins the board.

Definely will use the investment to change how the world’s top lawyers access and understand contracts. Also, it will focus on actively looking to expand its highly-experienced technical team.

How was the idea born?

Definely was founded in 2020 by Nnamdi Emelifeonwu, a Nigerian migrant whose parents fled Benin, and Feargus MacDaeid, born with the rare degenerative condition, Retinitis Pigmentosa.

The pair met while working at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London and struck up an unlikely friendship. Working as a lawyer in a high-profile law firm involves an incredible amount of extremely manual digital paperwork, carrying out these lengthy and intricate legal processes while being severely visually impaired is no mean feat. One day, Nnamdi asked Feargus if anything be done to make your work life easier. 

Together, they set out to discover a way to increase the accessibility of legal documents to those with visual impairments and realised their innovation solved a pain point faced by all lawyers daily.

Backed by Microsoft and Google, Definely makes it easier for lawyers to read, edit, and understand legal documents. One of the company’s products, Definely Vault, deploys sophisticated AI techniques to create a taxonomy of a firm’s entire contract repository, extracting all relevant data and clauses to make information readily available to users as contracts are drafted and reviewed.

Available via subscription, Definely’s suite of productivity solutions assists lawyers at every pre-execution stage of the contract lifecycle, helping its customers draft, proof, and understand legal documents quickly. Headquartered in London, and with over 60 employees located globally, the company is now focused on adding to its existing base of 40,000 active users from the largest companies and law firms in the UK, US, Canada, and Australia. 

Definely now provides its technology to some of the largest legal firms in the world, including Allen & Overy (now A&O Shearman), Eversheds, DLA Piper, Deloitte, Ericsson, and Barclays, among their clients. The company currently operates in Europe, North America, Africa, Australia, and Asia. Delivered as a Microsoft Word Plugin, Definely is easy to adopt and roll out quickly across legal teams.

“Before we built Definely, lawyers that needed to access information and understand contracts would use Ctrl+F keys, multiple windows, scroll through hundreds of pages, or simply print out documents so that they could reference all the information in one place. As someone visually impaired, you can imagine the challenge this represented for me.” It sounds like an obvious problem, but you wouldn’t believe how many hours law firms can spend just looking for the right information,” commented Feargus MacDaeid, Co-Founder & CSO of Definely. 

“Running Definely is the first thing I do when opening a contract. It is both a tool for reviewing and proofing, but more importantly, something I use in real-time when drafting and constructing contracts as a part of my job. This is what sets it apart.” Said Ben Brooks, a lawyer at Allen & Overy. 

“Definely is a testament to the power of diverse perspectives and accessibility first in innovation. So we built the simplest delivery possible for our tech, incorporating it via a Microsoft Word Plugin so that it integrates with every lawyer’s existing workflow and tooling. It was this in part, that allowed us to become such an entrenched provider of legal technology to some of the world’s largest law firms and corporations so quickly,” added Nnamdi Emelifeonwu, Co-Founder & CEO of Definely.

“At Octopus Ventures, we’re backing the entrepreneurs who make it their mission to empower people and change industries for the better. Definely is a fantastic example of this – what started as a solution to improve accessibility in the legal industry, has evolved into a product that boosts productivity for all lawyers. By leveraging their powerful AI and strong relationships with companies like Microsoft, Definely is well-positioned to make significant inroads into this $60bn industry,” said Edward Keelan, partner at Octopus Ventures.

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