In its second acquisition in six weeks, law practice management company Clio has acquired Lawyaw, a document automation and assembly platform designed for solo, small and mid-sized law firms.

This news follows Clio’s July 28 announcement that it acquired CalendarRules, an automated court calendaring product. It is Clio’s third acquisition ever, including its 2018acquisition of Lexicata, the client relationship management platform that formed the basis of Clio Grow. 

Lawyaw, founded in 2016 and based in San Francisco, was part of the startup accelerator Y Combinator’s winter 2018 class and was also one of the 15 companies selected for the second-annual Startup Alley at ABA TECHSHOW in 2018. [Note: I oversee the Startup Alley.]

Its software enables law firms to convert their existing legal documents into reusable templates and then provides a tool for editing and populating those templates and generating finished documents in Microsoft Word.

Lawyaw says that what makes it unique among legal document automation products is its focus on digitizing entire workflows, from information gathering to document assembly, e-signatures, and more, in an easy-to-use, cloud-based interface.

Tucker Cottingham

Tucker Cottingham, the former lawyer who cofounded Lawyaw and was its CEO, is now joining Clio, where he will become general manager of Lawyaw. All 25 Lawyaw employees will also join Clio.

Clio and Lawyaw had already worked together for several years, developing a data integration between their products. Lawyaw was the first document automation company to have an app in Clio’s app store, and last year it was one of the initial products to enable Sign in with Clio, allowing Clio users to log-in to integrated applications with their Clio credentials.

A Shared Vision

Yesterday, I discussed the acquisition with Cottingham and Shubham Datta, vice president of corporate development at Clio.

“The thing that we both rallied around is, I think, we’ve got a really clear, shared vision of the future of the legal industry and how specifically we can help lawyers run a better and more efficient practice,” Cottingham said.

Shubham Datta

That shared vision, he said, is of a future for legal services that is digital and that enables people to have better access to legal services and enables attorneys to run more efficient and streamlined practices without sacrificing quality.

Cottingham said he was particularly excited about Clio’s long-term perspective on how it can change the legal industry. “Jack [Newton, Clio CEO] talks about building a 100-year company. For a startup, that’s really exciting to us because we’ve seen the traction of our product, and we’ve seen the power of what it can do, but being able to have that kind of longer horizon to think through how we can effect meaningful change is something that we get really excited about.”

Datta said that Clio recognized that documents are the lifeblood of the legal industry and wanted to make the process of working with them as efficient and effective as possible. The addition of Lawyaw to Clio Grow and Clio Manage, he said, will strengthen customers’ ability to digitize their core legal workflows, with documents at the heart of that.

Cottingham said that among Lawyaw’s strongest features are the ability for users to enter information once and never have to re-enter that information, and then be able to use that information to generate not just single documents, but sets of multiple documents that can include both the firm’s own templates and court-generated PDF forms.

With its current Clio integration, Lawyaw already is able to pull information out of Clio to populate templates, but Cottingham and Datta said they will now be working to make improvements to that integration with the goal of having it be a seamless experience.

They said further announcements relating to Lawyaw’s Clio integration will be made at or before the Clio Cloud Conference in October, but they declined to provide details.

“Coming off the backs of the CalendarRules acquisition, as well, I think both of these products will allow our customers to interface with the court system in a very meaningful and more digitized manner than they have ever before,” Datta said.

Cottingham emphasized that Lawyaw will remain a standalone product available to all current customers, regardless of whether they are Clio customers. “We’re still going to be giving the same excellent level of customer service and care to all of our customers.”