Big Four accounting giant KPMG’s legal arm has led a $3.26 million Series A investment in an Australian legal technology company, and its legal arm is forming a strategic alliance with the company.
KPMG Law will hold a 9.99% stake in Plexus, an eight-year-old legal automation company based in Melbourne with offices also in Sydney, London and Washington, D.C. Plexus is led by chief executive officer Andrew Mellett, a former director at research and advisory firm Corporate Executive Board. The investment is the largest venture capital funding round so far in Australia’s legal tech sector, according to Plexus.
Plexus focuses on servicing in-house legal departments and its legal automation platform, Plexus Gateway, is used by more than 100 companies, including Australian grocery giant Woolworths, cosmetics group L’Oréal and KPMG, according to the company. Plexus also has a flexible lawyering service called Engage.
The funding will be used to invest in Plexus Gateway and fund expansion in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Europe and the U.S.
KPMG Law will also form a strategic alliance with Plexus, allowing the accounting firm’s legal arm to use Plexus’ technology solution for its own clients. “Combined with KPMG Law’s range of core and new solutions, it will allow us to provide a single access, one-stop platform to our clients,” Stuart Fuller, Sydney-based Asia Pacific head of KPMG Law, said in a statement.
The other investors are Rob Phillpot and Leigh Jasper, the cofounders of Melbourne-based construction software company Aconex, which was sold to U.S. software giant Oracle for about $1.2 billion in 2017; and Grant Rule, a co-founder of MessageMedia, another Melbourne-based company which provides mobile messaging solutions to businesses.
Plexus said it conducted a survey in February with about 100 Australia-based general counsel and found 97% expect no significant increase in head counts for their in-house teams over the next three years, but expect investment in technology to go up by 111% year-on-year.
“Our research shows that, like many other industries, legal executives are choosing technology over human investment,” said Plexus’ Mellet in a statement. “General counsel now recognise they need to invest in technology to free up their people to have more strategic impact.”
According to Plexus, both corporate legal departments and law firms are investing in legal tech—which is a $15.9 billion market globally, the company said, citing a 2017 research by New York-based venture capital firm Catalyst Investors—to automate mundane tasks and better management legal operations and processes.
“We are at the dawn of a 20-year transformation of one of the world’s most conservative industries,” said Mellett in the statement. “We believe that in the future, legal services will be delivered with the ease we expect of flicking a light switch.”