How This CEO Disrupted the Notoriously Tricky Italian Legal System

Federica Pasini October 20, 2020
 Giovanni Toffoletto 1
Courtesy of LexDo.it

Legal business is one of the most challenging sectors to innovate in Italy. The local justice systems are both complex and particular, while many Italians are hesitant to share personal legal details with small companies.

Furthermore, the Italian legal system is one of the least efficient sectors in Europe. The average time for local dispositions is three times longer than the rest of the continent, which leads to other inefficiencies in the system. For example, there are 368 lawyers per 100,000 inhabitants in Italy compared to 93 in France and 202 in Germany.

The challenge for any company in the legal space is to find activities that follow local rules and processes that also don’t require a lawyer. This allows for innovation that can be streamlined and automated to create a better experience for citizens and empower entrepreneurs by simplifying their bureaucratic tasks.

This is the mission of LexDo.it, a startup co-founded by Giovanni Toffoletto in 2015. The company provides a complete digital legal service in Italy that can easily generate over 200 types of contracts and customized legal documents in a few minutes.

LexDo.it’s focus is to make legal assistance accessible and affordable to everyone, with a particular target on entrepreneurs and professionals. Legal advisory for individuals, startups, and SMEs in the Italian legal market is generally not provided by legal firms but usually by consultants like accountants, HR specialists, or even free online websites. This means citizens rarely have the certainty of trained legal professionals advising them, and that’s why LexDo.it focuses on providing clients with a simple and complete legal solution that includes a virtual legal team.

Giovanni, the only engineer in a family of lawyers, had the idea to create the company while working in London as a consultant. Given his family background, he was constantly receiving requests for basic legal support and realized many Italians were in need of help. He knew that traditional lawyers in the country are very expensive and many times don’t provide consultancy on how to do simple things like opening a new business, hiring an employee, renting a room, or writing an NDA.

Given his experience, inside knowledge of the industry, and a knack for technology, Giovanni started to think about a tool that could be automated enough to overthrow traditional costs. The vision was to give everyday people access to basic legal knowledge through trustworthy, transparent technology.

So in 2015, Giovanni built the first prototype for LexDo.it, a tool for creating common contracts like NDAs. Easy to use but with a professional appearance, the tool was a big success even as a prototype. It helped the team close a 1M€ investment round in 2017 and allowed them to accelerate the automatization of contract creation. Giovanni did this by hiring lawyers as well as friends who had started a software solutions firm called buildo.io to bring the two pillars of the business together: technology and law.

One of his main breakthroughs was understanding that non-lawyers were being asked to assimilate into a confusing, technical system made only for lawyers. He knew that in order to industrialize law, he needed to make sure LexDo.it was running through the perspective of the lawyer, allowing other professionals to focus on what they are good at. That’s why he decided early on that one of the most relevant KPIs for the company was the number of automated generated contracts, not necessarily the number of customers. LexDo.it also focused on collaboration with professional lawyers to provide phone support in case users needed a specific and high-level legal service, providing a platform that felt both professional and personal.

The strategy worked. As of today, LexDo.it has provided 750,000 automated contracts to over 100,000 customers in Italy. The majority of their customers are startup clients using the service for new business like employment contracts and supplier agreements, as well as for managing their websites through Terms & Conditions and Privacy language. But they also have private clients who use LexDo.it to create personal legal documents, a mission that is very important to Giovanni.

Even if this approach sounds in opposition to the traditional one, Giovanni’s vision also includes synergy with law firms. He sees LexDo.it as a streamlined extension of the usual service, to the point where he helped his family business industrialize operative requests to give their customers additional tools.

The real competition comes from free information websites that allow a self-service approach. They don’t cost anything, but they also frequently expose their customers to errors and fines. That’s why in 2018, LexDo.it introduced a freemium strategy that grants a basic, but accurate, service to customers.

These are the types of product improvements that come from a team structured to embed a technological approach into the legal marketplace. LexDo.it’s 15 employees are split in three teams — legal, technology, and marketing — that frequently cross-collaborate to work functionally together.

This agile approach enables LexDo.it to move quickly from prototype to market check, allowing the team to learn from marketing insights that reveal pain points for the final customer. This is also the reason why, when looking for a new team member, potential employees must cover at least two out of three areas and be lawyers who are able to code, marketers who have legal knowledge, or software engineers who are skilled in marketing tasks. This functionality allows the team to maintain its ambition of creating new products to simplify the lives of millions of Italians.

“Our goal is to use technology to give anyone access to complete legal support,” Giovanni said in an interview with The Org. “Looking ahead, in addition to consolidating our position in the Italian market with additional services, we do not exclude expanding our business beyond borders through direct investments or in partnership with other platforms that offer the same services as us in other European countries.”

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