advocado – Innovation in German Legal Services
Digitalization has taken over the German everyday life. Social Media platforms allow you to stay in touch with people you met and newspapers publish new stories on their apps. Food shopping does not require going to the supermarket anymore because online products will be brought right to your front door. Even doctors are available online now to help with just a webcam and an internet connection. German everyday life is marked by substantial progress and innovation.
But this highly complex virtual world can fool you easily: What if my personal data is not encoded correctly and misused by third parties? What if I made a payment to an online shop but never receive my product or hear from the people behind the screen? Hiding in the online world is simple. It suddenly brings people back to old traditional reality in a country which looks advanced but has not experienced progress in law businesses in the last decades. Finding a lawyer in Germany requires researching the appropriate lawyer by oneself, multiple phone calls, and hours of driving to law offices and exchanging important papers in person. The difficulties between combining the digitalizing the old world become even more obvious when thinking about: If I do not trust the online world in general, why should I trust an online lawyer?
This is the question I asked myself three years ago and led me to the following problem: Why can we do everything online but law business in Germany? Together with my cofounder Jacob Saß we considered different ideas to make legal counsel easier, faster, and more transparent. They all led us to this solution: Is there a way to transact online the entire process between lawyers and clients?
We founded advocado in 2014 and started creating and building a virtual law office for the entire country with advantages for both the lawyers and for the clients. For example, our solutions are helping lawyers finding new clients: People who are looking for justice can just go online and use our program to ask their question. advocado provides the legal counsel by operating a constantly growing national-wide lawyer network and marketplace. The prices are fixed and controlled so that customers can rely on a fair-price-policy and advocado’s services include the entire legal process: initial contact, consulting, counsel representation and also the payment transaction which is of course controlled by the German data protection regulations. This fast help for private and business clients includes specialized and controlled lawyers for every legal problem: employment protection, custody and support for property loans, but also helping medium-sized companies with finding the right corporate form or with the general terms and conditions are just a few of the legal fields the advocado marketplace supports. For this accomplishment we were honored with the IT award for innovation last year.
Constant innovation requires new ideas. Now we have 14 people at advocado working on the first ideas Jacob and I had. But digitalizing German legal advice and services is still in an early stage. One might expect the very low number of law offices in the country as the reason lawyers had no need to digitalize their services. But more than 54.000 law offices in Germany are dealing with an extremely high competitive pressure and the increase in the amount of new lawyers puts growing stress of competition on non-legal providers. Strategies are important now to counteract this pressure. These first ideas for founding advocado turned into contemporary innovative solutions for both the lawyers and for the clients who are brought together now in the digitalized age using our marketplace. Specialized lawyers are constantly requested more and more by clients, but the right lawyer for someone’s problem is not always in the same town. Sometimes the client himself struggles at the very beginning and cannot even assess who to contact for his legal issue. That is when we help. We connect the right lawyer to the right client. Law in Germany can now be managed in an expedient and resource-efficient way and legal issues find targeted solutions. But one thing is left unexplained - what about the trust problem?
Digitalization has taken over almost every type of business and the everyday life of Germans. Innovation leads to new strategies and opens up to new possibilities. But that innovation we are witnessing is almost irrelevant if it cannot assure safety and trust. With advocado as an objective facilitator between lawyers and clients we enable hedging the legal process for both sides in Germany.
Only in Germany? Is there a way to transact the entire process between lawyers and clients throughout Europe? This is what we are working on now. Innovation comes with ideas, but these ideas should never be a straight-line. Because a straight-line thinking characterized the German law system for a long time. It is time to innovate and internationalize.
Maximilian Block Gründer & CEO
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