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May 16, 2024

Benchmark backs one-year-old AI legaltech Leya in $10.5m seed round

The AI startup was “bombarded with requests” after being accepted by Y-Combinator

Mimi Billing

3 min read

Swedish legaltech startup Leya has raised a $10.5m seed round led by US VC Benchmark.

The news arrives just months after Leya finished the Y Combinator accelerator programme, which also participated in the round, along with London-based VC Hummingbird and San Francisco-based SV Angel.

Leya is one of many startups that have recently launched AI tools to simplify legal operations. To stand out from the competition, Leya has taken a broader approach to its AI tool, according to its CEO and cofounder Max Junestrand.

“We assume that lawyers don’t want to use many different AI tools but one that can do a lot,” he says. “Approaching this as machine learning developers instead of former lawyers, we look at the data first and have integrated all the past work the law firm has done as well as integrate the AI with legal databases across countries.”

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With the fresh capital, the company will now grow its 25-strong team and continue to invest in its product development.

“You can only work 14 hours a day, and there is so much to do,” Junestrand says.

“Bombarded by VC requests”

Leya was founded in June 2023 when its cofounders participated in the Stockholm School of Economics' (SSE) Business Lab incubator. It then won early backing from AI company Sana's founder Joel Hellermark and the former CEO of impact foundation Norrsken, Erik Engellau-Nilsson.

One of its first customers was the high-profile Swedish law firm Mannheimer Swartling. A few months after the company was founded, Leya was accepted to Y Combinator.

“When you are accepted to Y Combinator, you are on everyone's radar — we were bombarded with requests and had to be very selective in who we spoke to,” Junestrand says.

Leya has over 70 customers, both law firms and in-house legal teams, in European countries such as the UK, Spain, France, Portugal, the Netherlands and across the Nordics. Sifted understands the annual subscription fee per user is around €1,000 to €3,000.

The AI tool that Leya has developed directly accesses files and documents and combines them with legal data, such as EU legal databases, regulations, case law and authority information from over 15 jurisdictions. It then provides citations and references from the material, including due diligence reviews and conversations.

Leya is agnostic in which AI model it’s using, as long as it meets data privacy and confidentiality requirements. The startup is building its product on Microsoft’s Azure platform and uses, among others LLMs, Meta’s LLaMA and OpenAI’s GPT-4o.

“[As AI development proceeds] the smarter models will be slower and then you will use quicker models for some tasks and slower models for more difficult ones. This is something we’re already doing in our tech stack. It is a bit of a patchwork where the different models talk to each other,” Junestrand says.

“We see this [AI innovation] as our generation’s internet moment.”

On the topic of global expansion, Junestrand adds: “There is a lot of talk but little action around these kinds of AI tools at the moment.

“So we want to focus on building a product in Europe that everyone loves and uses – that is much more important for us than global expansion from day one.”

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Mimi Billing

Mimi Billing is Sifted's Europe editor. She covers the Nordics and healthtech, and can be found on X and LinkedIn