When then University of Michigan law professor Michael Bloom began work on an interactive teaching tool for his students, his intention wasn’t to create a product that would be housed in a company and used by thousands of people in the broader legal community. But he ended up doing just that, founding U-M spinout Praktio LLC where he is also the CEO.
Praktio markets interactive, self-paced, digital training that gives individuals new to working with contracts an opportunity to learn practical skills, such as reading, drafting and negotiating contracts. Specifically, Praktio offers courses in general contract fundamentals and due diligence, as well as focused courses in confidentiality agreements and purchase agreements. Clients include many of the world’s largest law firms, and, more recently, global corporations too.
Bloom began working on what would become Praktio’s products in 2014 when he saw a need for interactive, digital training for his second- and third-year law students during his hands-on class (called a clinic). In fact, Bloom was the founding director of the Transactional Lab & Clinic, which offered students a time and place to learn practical skills by reviewing and generating contracts for clients under supervision.
Meanwhile, traditional legal elearning was not interactive, and the process for junior lawyers to learn contract skills could be slow and haphazard. Bloom wanted something like Rosetta Stone or Codeacademy for learning the language of contracts but couldn’t find a product like that. Instead, he began building interactive training content with existing elearning authoring software, and with feedback from his students, kept iterating to improve the material.
Eventually, he began piloting these tools at law firms where it turned out there was an appetite for solving the same problem Bloom sought to solve in his clinic. Eventually Praktio accumulated enough clients, revenue, and feedback that Bloom decided it was time to jump into the startup full-time.
Bloom recruited friend and software engineer Sean Naemi, now Praktio’s CTO, who helped him ask better questions to guide the company’s foray into developing its own elearning authoring platform. Bloom also received guidance from U-M’s OTT and members of the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and was awarded funds from what is now U-M’s Center for Academic Innovation to create interactive training content for his students.
“A big mission in my career has been to bridge the gap between law school and law practice. One thing that Praktio became was a way to do that at scale,” said Bloom.
An important aspect of Praktio’s offerings is that they create a space for learning through mistakes, which became the company’s slogan. “We don’t share score data with firms, and we decided early on that we needed to be intentional and transparent about this,” Bloom said, adding that the only consequence for users’ mistakes is learning how to do better.
Praktio plans to expand its course offerings and is developing training material for capitalization tables, disclosure schedules, and legal writing related to organizing briefs.
Bloom added, “We’re actively building out a new learning platform for deploying our own training and are excited to explore ways other training providers and client organizations might leverage that platform too.”