Building the law firm of the future

Alumnus Brett Colvin is innovating the legal experience through his award-winning platform Goodlawyer

Carmen Rojas - 16 January 2023

It’s been less than a decade since Brett Colvin, ‘15 JD, graduated from the University of Alberta Faculty of Law, but in that short time he has emerged as an innovator for the legal profession.

Colvin’s company Goodlawyer, which he co-founded in 2019, helps startup founders access affordable legal services through an online platform. With over 20 employees in its Calgary office and a network of 100+ lawyers across the country, the platform has already assisted thousands of entrepreneurs by connecting them with lawyers who have specialized expertise. 

In 2022, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce named Goodlawyer the ATB Small Business of the Year for its rapid growth and dedication to developing the local startup ecosystem. 

“Launching a business and bringing a new idea to life is a challenging and rewarding experience, and receiving this award is a testament to all the hard work and dedication that has gone into building the business,” says Colvin, who was also selected as one of the city’s “Top 40 Under 40” by Avenue Calgary last year. “It's a great feeling to be recognized for our achievements, and it motivates us to continue striving for success in the future.”

Colvin credits his experiences as a law student – in particular, the influence of two professors – with planting the seed that eventually grew into Goodlawyer. It was a course taught by Prof. Mitchell McInnes that first sparked his interest in the potential for using technology to streamline legal processes and make legal services more accessible and transparent. 

“This idea really resonated with me,” he explains. “It stayed with me as I progressed through law school and worked inside a big firm.”

Colvin says that his belief in the potential for innovation in the legal field was further solidified by a paper written by then-Dean of Law at the U of A, Prof. Paul Paton, KC, that explored similar ideas about using technology and new business models to improve the legal industry. 

While the seed for Goodlawyer was planted during these years, after graduation Colvin initially started his career by joining a large national firm. However, as he gained first-hand experience in the profession he began to notice ways in which he believed the practice of law could be improved through technology, particularly when it came to making legal services more accessible.

“I also became increasingly interested in building a company that was focused on creating a positive culture and work environment for lawyers,” he says. “I wanted to create a place where good lawyers could thrive, both personally and professionally, while still delivering top-notch legal services to clients.”

The combination of these factors ultimately convinced Colvin to take a bold leap, leaving the firm and teaming up with a developer and a designer to start pursuing his vision for Goodlawyer. 

Like most entrepreneurs, Colvin has faced his share of challenges building his company and has had to adapt along the way to fine tune his approach. 

"It's important to stay focused and keep pushing forward, even when things get tough,” he says, noting the value of building trust with clients and partners and listening to their feedback about Goodlawyer. 

Colvin admits that as part of his efforts to bring new perspectives to the legal industry he has encountered pushback from people who prefer traditional models of practising law or are hesitant to adopt change, but overall he says the reaction has been positive. 

“We believe that our approach has the potential to bring much-needed change and innovation to a legal industry that is lagging behind in terms of technology adoption and client-focused practices,” he says. “We will continue to work diligently to showcase the benefits of our approach and to build support for our vision.”

As Colvin looks to the future, he’s excited to focus on Goodlawyer’s new Fractional Counsel solution, which provides overflow legal support to high-growth companies and larger organizations. He also looks forward to leading the company through even further growth, with plans for international expansion by 2024. 

“One of the most gratifying aspects of building a startup has been the opportunity to build something new with an exceptionally talented and driven team. We are excited to bring new ideas to life and make a positive impact on the world,” he says. “Hearing from our clients and lawyers about how Goodlawyer has helped them or even changed their life is incredibly fulfilling. I am grateful to do what I love every day.”