Law firm acquires stake in Leeds-based startup

Robin Saphra and Reinhard Schu of Yuzu

Law firm Pinsent Masons has acquired a 20% stake in a legal outsourcing startup, Yuzu.

Yuzu, which according to its website is based at the 1 Park Row offices that Pinsent Masons inhabit in Leeds, was set up by Robin Saphra and co-founder Reinhard Schu.

Saphra was the former general counsel to BTG plc, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company PJSC and FTSE250 company Colt Group SA.

Chief operating officer Schu spent 10 years in private practice, and in 2008, joined Colt Group as legal director. From 2013 to 2015 he served as general counsel to KVH, a Fidelity-owned technology business in Tokyo, and later a subsidiary of Colt.

Yuzu allows clients to transfer parts of their legal function out of the business.

The founders say that it will allow them to move elements of the legal function ‘off balance sheet’, thus reducing fixed costs, improving operational efficiency and cost savings.

Pinsent Masons is incubating Yuzu by providing seed funding and strategic support during Yuzu’s start-up phase in return for a minority shareholding.

It is not the first time the law firm has dipped its toe in the startup waters, having founded flexible resourcing business Vario and backing online compliance solutions business Cerico.

The legal outsourcing company was incorporated in January 2017.

Alastair Morrison, head of client Strategy at Pinsent Masons, said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with Robin and Reinhard, both of whom enjoy stellar reputations as innovators in the field of legal services. We think deeply, expansively and radically about responding to the challenges our clients face so see a role for us in helping to bring solutions like Yuzu to market.”

Robin Saphra, CEO of Yuzu, said: “Pinsent Masons has a longstanding reputation for innovation and the courage to do things differently, so their investment feels like a very good fit for us as we bring our in-house experience to the legal services market. Yuzu embraces the opportunity to deliver efficiencies and transformation in a way which traditional private practice or other outsourcers cannot. We are a solution for GCs, designed and delivered by GCs.”