Ex-Storyful director launches legal information firm

Gavin Sheridan says Vizlegal is initially targeting market for legal information in EU

Gavin Sheridan, the former director of innovation at social media news company Storyful, is launching a start-up called Vizlegal, which will initially be aimed at the European legal market.

Mr Sheridan cofounded the venture with Fred Logue an intellectual property lawyer who was previously a senior manager in the intellectual property business of Lucent Technologies.

Storyful, where Mr Sheridan worked closely with company founder Mark Little, was sold last year to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp for €18 million.

Mr Sheridan said Vizlegal was initially targeting the market for legal information in the European Union.

“There is an awful lot of legal information out there like judgments, laws, administrative decisions and commentary. We want to put it all in one place so it is properly systemised and presented,” he said.

Huge market

Mr Sheridan said the market for legal information was currently dominated by Lexis, which is owned by Reed Elsevier, and WestLaw, which is owned by Thomson Reutersboth multibillion euro firms.

“The market for legal information is huge,” he said. “But it reminds me of the news industry ten years ago when I looked at it because I think it could be ‘disrupted’.

“We want to make legal information as accessible as possible. We want to make it easier and cheaper for legal professionals to do sophisticated research and gain the insights they need to do their work effectively.”

Legal research

Mr Sheridan said Vizlegal also hoped to offer its services to citizens in Europe interested in finding out more about the legal system that affects them.

He said the experience of trying to force Ireland's National Asset Management Agency, at one stage the world's biggest property agency, to be subject to an access to information law similar to the Freedom of Information Act, had given him the idea to start his new business.

“I saw how difficult it was to get legal information. I couldn’t understand why lawyers were walking around with trolleys carrying boxes of legal documents when so much of the work could be done electronically,” Mr Sheridan said.

Vizlegal was cofounded in August by Mr Sheridan and Mr Logue. It plans to launch its first product early next year.

“We will also be raising money in the new year,” Mr Sheridan said.

The development of the business is currently being funded by the resources of its cofounders.