An ex-Linklaters lawyer and an ex-Simmons and Simmons lawyer have made a fortune after selling their proofreading business for $10 million.
Former Simmons & Simmons solicitor Stephen Scanlan set up 'XRef' in 2009 to automatically check whether defined terms were capitalised and spelt correctly in documents, and to identify definitions which weren’t used and capitalised terms which weren’t defined. Together with ex-Linklaters lawyer Travis Leon, they launched it to the wider market in 2012. At the time Leon told RollOnFriday, "if this works out, I have absolutely no intention of returning to lawyering".
It did work out. By 2016 XRef had amassed over 20,000 users and Magic Circle firms as clients. Then K1 Investment Management, a US private equity firm, approached with an offer to purchase the business. "We were a little surprised", Leon and Scanlan told RollOnFriday, but "really happy with the outcome". Within a month the pair, together with co-founder Ben Scammell, had sold the business for approximately $10 million and were multi-millionaires.
|Leon in front of a train he probably owns.
|Scanlan + $1m cardy.
Scanlan has now set up two new technology companies, one of which he hopes will revolutionise time recording. “There’s so much scope for innovation in legal tech", he said, "which is still miles behind FinTech". Leon joined K1, where he said he manages 300 staff. He said it was "great to now have the resources to support my entrepreneurial passions, without having to bear all of the risk and without having to worry about paying the rent!"
When notified of his success, a sampling of Leon's fellow students from Nottingham Law School reacted with a mixture of jealousy and anger. As for Linklaters and Simmons & Simmons, they are now both XRef customers.