Exclusive: This Startup Wants to Be the Salesforce for Legal Departments

Ironclad CEO Jason Boehmig
Photo courtesy of Ironclad

Ironclad, a Silicon Valley startup that wants to automate the way legal contracts are created and managed, now has $8 million in new funding to try to make that happen.

This Series A round, led by Accel, brings total funding to over $11 million for the two-year old company, which sees a huge opportunity to ease the workflows used by tens of thousands of corporate lawyers. Steve Loughlin, a partner at Accel, will join Ironclad’s board.

Company co-founder and CEO Jason Boehmig sees this as one of the last big opportunities in business software. After all, nearly every company of any size has a legal department—just as it has a sales team, which typically uses Salesforce (CRM); a human resources unit that has Workday (WDAY); and a marketing group that might use Marketo (MKTO).

“We’re going for the last core vertical that isn’t served by a big Software-as-a-Service company,” he noted. Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, is a tech industry term for software delivered over the Internet for a subscription fee.

There are some competitors in this arena including Apttus, which runs on Salesforce software, and many companies fashion their own systems using existing databases and content management software.

Boehmig has the background to note this need. He was a corporate attorney at Fenwick & West, a large Silicon Valley law firm, for two years. His co-founder and Ironclad chief technology officer, Cai GoGwilt, was previously a software engineer at stealthy cybersecurity startup Palantir.

Boehmig and GoGwilt first nurtured Ironclad at Y-Combinator, a Silicon Valley seed fund accelerator. And for the past two years, they have rolled it out quietly at several companies including GoFundMe, Glassdoor, and HotelTonight.

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Corporate legal departments spend a lot of time doing what amounts to menial labor.

“There is a massive inefficiency of labor,” Boehmig tells Fortune. “I would do a lot of work to get to the point of delivering a legal opinion and much of that work wasn’t even legal, but more about structuring information correctly, organizing tax tables. These are things that a lawyer needs to know but it’s busy work,” he says.

Much of that work is better left to a computer, he says.

Most lawyers would prefer to focus on the legal, not organizational stuff. Ironclad estimates that bad contract management practices can suck up to 10% of a given company’s gross revenue.

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Boehmig says Ironclad solves two major problems faced by all in-house legal departments in their contract work. First, it shepherds the contract itself from creation to completion as quickly as possible. Second it stores and extracts key information from those contracts as needed.

Ironclad will also work with whatever document storage and management software a customer already uses, including Box (BOX), Dropbox, and DocuSign (DOCUSIGN).

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Automated contract management is potentially a huge market, but just how huge is difficult to say. Boehmig says estimates of total addressable market (TAM) range wildly from $2 billion to $100 billion. He pegs it at about $75 billion.

When asked if Ironclad will keep its focus on at contract management or expand into other areas, Boehmig leaves the door open: “We have large ambitions. Just as Amazon started with books, we’re starting at contracts because contracts are an interesting and important part of the market.”

Note: (August 3, 2017 10:40 a.m.) This story was updated to include references to other players in the contract management market.

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