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Yale Law Grads Use Technology to Provide High Quality and Cost Effective Legal Services On Demand

03/25/2016 02:17 pm ET | Updated Mar 25, 2016

Recently, I asked the CEO and Co-Founder of Priori Legal, Basha Frost Rubin, to tell me how her work is disrupting the legal field. Basha speaks and writes extensively about how technology is changing - and will change - the market for legal services. Her writing has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Inc, Women 2.0 and Under30CEO. Basha holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A. from Yale College and is a member of the New York Bar. She also sits on the boards of A Blade of Grass and the Rubin Museum of Art and is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.

Marquis Cabrera: What is Priori Legal?

Basha Frost Rubin: Priori Legal is a curated legal marketplace that connects entrepreneurs and in-house departments with a network of vetted lawyers at competitive rates. Our technology platform facilitates communication and billing, invoicing and collections.

Marquis Cabrera: What pain point are you solving?

Basha Frost Rubin: We make finding, hiring and working with the right lawyers more efficient, transparent and cost-effective. Because our lawyers operate without the costly infrastructure of the traditional firm, powered by the lean infrastructure of our technology platform, we can cut costs dramatically while maintaining quality.

Marquis Cabrera: Where did you get the idea of Priori Legal?

Basha Frost Rubin: When my co-founder, Mirra Levitt, and I were at Yale Law School, we were both struck by the tremendous impact that excellent legal services, delivered early, can have on outcomes. We thought that a technology-driven platform could facilitate that en masse. That simple insight was the first germ of Priori.

Marquis Cabrera: Can you give an example?

Basha Frost Rubin: For example, when a small business tries to handle their initial legal work without the assistance of a lawyer (commonly -- formation, basic governance documents, trademark, contracts, etc.), they make mistakes that are costly and require the assistance of a lawyer to unwind. We see companies in those types of situations all the time in Priori. If they had simply used a good lawyer early, they would have saved time and money.

Marquis Cabrera: Is there a specific type of entrepreneur that you are targeting?

Basha Frost Rubin: No. Our clients range from independent contractors to Fortune 500 companies.

Marquis Cabrera: What has been the general sentiment of your product in the market?

Basha Frost Rubin: It's been really fantastic. When we first started talking to lawyers about the idea for Priori, there was a sentiment that only low-quality services could be delivered via online platforms. Over the past few years, we've seen a dramatic sea-change in how lawyers see these platforms. As a result, we've had the privilege of being extraordinarily selective about the lawyers we admit to our platform.

Marquis Cabrera: Have you raised money?

Basha Frost Rubin: We have raised a seed round.

Marquis Cabrera: Is the future of the legal field marketplaces? If so, in your opinion, why?

Basha Frost Rubin: Yes. Marketplaces, driven by technology, can deliver high-quality services more cost-effectively than firms, particularly in the middle market.

Marquis Cabrera: How do you plan on disrupting the traditional legal market services with your marketplace?

Basha Frost Rubin: By stripping away the costly infrastructure of the traditional firm model through our lean technology platform, we can provide high-quality legal services at radically reduced prices. We can also make the matchmaking process more efficient by gathering and organizing extremely detailed information about our lawyers' backgrounds and practices.

Marquis Cabrera: How is your legal marketplace different from ones out there?

Basha Frost Rubin: The intense curation of our network combined with our matchmaking approach -- using data to identify the lawyers in our network with precisely the expertise and experience a client needs -- set us apart from other marketplaces.

Marquis Cabrera: How do you build a trusting relationship between client and lawyer (i.e. atty ratings... )?

Basha Frost Rubin: The trust-building starts before the relationship through Priori's vetting process. Priori's vetting process is as rigorous as a job application and includes a comprehensive online application, face-to-face interview and professional reference checks. We require a minimum of five years practice experience and verified malpractice insurance to even begin the process. Subsequently, our lawyers must maintain a 95% approval rating from Priori clients. Ultimately, it's up to the lawyers to build trusting relationships, but we wanted to give clients and lawyers tools to facilitate that trust--including reviews from Priori clients, communication tools, transparent pricing and a satisfaction guarantee.

Marquis Cabrera: What impact are you hoping to create?

Basha Frost Rubin: Dramatically improve the delivery of high-quality legal services. While there might be an argument that some basic legal services will be commoditized, there is no replacement for legal advice in many cases because judgment and strategy are so critical. Too often that advice isn't delivered until it's too late because of barriers in the market (opaque pricing, fragmentation). Many smaller businesses simply don't know how to find the right lawyer for the needs and instead go it alone or use a lawyer friend who doesn't have the relevant expertise.

Marquis Cabrera: How has Yale Law helped you to grow your bandwidth and figure out ways to innovate the legal field?

Basha Frost Rubin: We're lucky to be part of an amazing and talented network of fellow alums, who have been extremely supportive and engaged in giving us feedback and creating connections. Many [Yale Law School] alums use Priori on both sides of our marketplace -- as members of our lawyer network and as GCs/entrepreneurs who manage their legal needs through Priori.

Marquis Cabrera: What advice would you give to someone seeking to disrupt the legal field using entrepreneurship and innovative methods?

Basha Frost Rubin: This isn't unique to the legal field -- but a lean model where you can run small experiments to see what catches on and what doesn't is crucial. Test everything, particularly in legal where change can be incremental.

Marquis Cabrera: To piggyback, what is the best advice to a law student who wants to become an entrepreneur post-grad, instead of practice law?

Basha Frost Rubin: If you realize partway through law school that you don't actually want to practice law, I would recommend taking classes at your university's business school to supplement your education and expand your network, and also reach out to your law school's alums who have started a business.

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