A legal technology start-up founded by a Manchester solicitor, entrepreneur and former star of BBC's The Apprentice has secured almost £350,000 in funding.

Lauren Riley founded The Link App in 2014 after working in a law firm and becoming frustrated with outdated working practices, including having to send sensitive documents by email and post.

The app was launched to shake up the legal sector by providing law and professional services firms with a secure and paperless way to communicate with clients.

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The £344,000 investment was backed by NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, as well as existing and new angel investors. It brings the total amount raised by the start-up to over £500,000.

"This latest round of investment will allow The Link App to expand our talented team and innovative product," Riley said.

Lauren Riley with Mercia's Maurice Disasi (left) and Ian Wilson 
Lauren Riley with Mercia's Maurice Disasi (left) and Ian Wilson

"The backing of Mercia and other experienced investors is key recognition of our progress to date and we are all excited about the innovation on the horizon."

Will Clark, fund principal at Mercia Fund Managers, said The Link App has been "commended by professionals at the highest level in the industry".

"This funding will allow her to further develop the product and establish a firm foothold in the fast-growing legal technology market," he added.

In addition to improving communication between firms and their clients, the app also allows lawyers to send updates and forms directly to a customer's  smartphone, who can then fill them in and submit signatures instantly using the mobile app.

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The Link App was recommended as a secure alternative to email in a book published by The Law Society and also has the backing of Sir Nigel Knowles, the former global co-chair of DLA Piper and now chair of DWF, who is an investor and chairman of the business.

The investment will allow Riley to expand the team and add further features to the system, including the ability to provide clients with milestones to monitor the progress of their case and upload documents, including their ID, directly from their mobile phone.

Caroline Walker and Gareth Saynor of CMS provided legal advice to Mercia while Jensons Solutions provided fundraising advice to the business.