Technology

YC-backed Hona looks to reduce the communication friction between law firms and their consumer clients

Yc Backed Hona Looks To Reduce The Communication Friction Between Law Firms And Their Consumer Clients

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When Manny Griffiths worked with a personal injury lawyer after his wife’s car accident, he was surprised by the lack of information and communication from their lawyer regarding their claim. The couple sometimes wouldn’t hear from their lawyer for months and found the entire process to be really opaque.

Griffiths dug deeper and learned that he wasn’t the only one with this issue. He discovered through his research that nearly half, 44%, of negative Google reviews for law firms that work with people, rather than with other businesses, had to do with consumers dissatisfied due to a breakdown in communication. But despite consumers feeling like they can’t get in touch with lawyers, lawyers reported they spend 37% of their day on communication, a Hona survey of 41 lawyers found.

“People just want to be talked to and know what is happening because they are in this emotional, stressful time,” Griffiths told TechCrunch. “I started talking to law firms, I really dug deep on what their challenges were, and I found that they are interrupted on average every three minutes during the day, and they are so busy that they don’t have time to communicate properly with their clients.”

Griffiths and his co-founders launched Hona to try to fill that communication gap with technology. Hona is a communication portal that plugs into a law firm’s existing case management software and sends automated updates to clients. The goal, Griffiths said, is to allow clients to track their case with the same ease as they track an Amazon package. This clearly resonated with law firms as the company saw strong demand even before its February 2022 launch.

“We actually made some mockups, we had someone design the product on Figma, and we said, ‘Let’s go try to sell this before we even write a line of code and tell people we could have it out by ‘x’ date,’” Griffiths said. “I just started cold-calling law firms and I got five firms to sign up before we had written anything.”

The Lehi, Utah-based company has continued to see demand since. It grew its revenue 400% in 2023 — but wouldn’t share exact revenue numbers. Hona currently works with more than 500 law firms and has been used by 308,000 clients. It also just closed on a $9.5 million Series A round led by Costanoa Ventures, with participation from Ludlow Ventures, Soma Capital and Y Combinator.

Griffiths said he doesn’t anticipate that Hona will replace or automate all communication between lawyers and clients — neither side wants that — but rather just eliminate clients calling their lawyer just for an update or with a question about legal jargon. Clients can message their lawyers through Hona as well and access educational materials about terms and information on what stage their case is at in the legal process.

The case updates, education resources and client-question answers are generated by AI, Griffiths said. He added that the company was really careful on how it incorporates AI because of the sensitive nature of legal cases, and the critical need to get information right. To combat potential misinformation, lawyers decide what Hona’s AI system can access.

“Early on, we allowed the law firms to upload approved topics of conversation, approved metrics and information regarding their case,” Griffiths said. “Our model might grow a little bit slower than other AI models. We limit what it can speak to initially but it will be more accurate upfront. That is a huge initiative for us to make sure they aren’t getting false information.”

The company decided to focus on consumer-facing legal practices like personal injury and criminal defense first because Griffiths anticipated that that is where the most friction is. It’s more likely that these firms’ clients wouldn’t have a strong understanding of the legal system compared to a business client that deals with lawyers on a more regular basis. The company hopes to expand to B2B law practices in the future as well.

Hona is also working to expand its offerings. It recently launched an e-signature tool for documents and plans to add services like billing and paying.

“We are passionate about the client on the other end of the spectrum,” Griffiths said. “Lawsuits are tough, and anything with legal, it’s stressful. Hona helps law firms be more efficient and give them back time, as well as help the consumer and really give them piece of mind during their case.”

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