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Online Attorney Marketplace UpCounsel Raises $1.5 Million, Opens Its Patent Practice To All

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UpCounsel has spent the last year building out its marketplace to provide its clients with affordable legal services. After serving more than 1,000 startups and small businesses, the company has raised $1.5 million and is announcing a few new products that should lower the cost of patent and real-estate transactions for clients.

The company was founded to connect startups and small businesses with legal help from independent attorneys. Businesses get the help they need without having to shell out big bucks to a law firm, attorneys get connected with new clients and additional work, and UpCounsel gets a small percentage for making the connection between the two. Everyone wins.

A few things have happened since we first wrote about the company. For one, UpCounsel has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from investors that include Homebrew, Bobby Yazdani, SV Angel, Collaborative Fund, Haroon Mokhtarzada, and other angels.

The funding comes as UpCounsel has seen growth not just in the number of attorneys on the platform, but also in companies using the service. Since launching 14 months ago, the marketplace has been used by more than 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses.

But as with all marketplace companies, UpCounsel needs to balance demand with supply. On that front, it has been busy getting more attorneys on board, in California and elsewhere. UpCounsel CEO Matt Faustman says that its roster is large enough to rival some of the largest law firms out there. In fact, he believes that the number of attorneys it has on the platform will be equivalent to one of the top 20 law firms in the world within the next six months.

UpCounsel has also been providing its attorneys with tools to better help each other out. While those in law firms can get guidance and help from others in the office, most independent attorneys are on their own. By building out its community, UpCounsel enables attorneys to network, get professional support, and even hire one another when they need additional help.

In addition to its funding, UpCounsel has opened up its international patent practice to companies in any jurisdiction. While most of its legal services are limited to California attorneys and clients, the patent practice had received enough interest that it made sense to make it available to clients elsewhere.

By making patent help avalable to all, UpCounsel is giving startups an opportunity to better compete with large incumbents, while also protecting themselves from patent trolls. According to Faustman, customers can save about 50 percent on patent work done through its platform compared to going through a firm. So far,

UpCounsel is also piloting fixed-fee legal services in its real estate practice. Given the number of jobs done through its system, it’s been able to streamline certain processes and determine how much they should cost. By normalizing the cost structure of certain transactions, UpCounsel believes that it’s able to significantly speed up the process.

For commercial real estate transactions, for instance, the company says that leases are typically processed three times faster and cost 40 percent less than if a company had to choose its own lawyer and have a lease reviewed.