The Scenario in the (Indian) Legal Tech Market
“Legal tech” in typical words means implementing the latest technology such as artificial intelligence, algorithms and machines to supplement, enlarge or extend the capabilities of all affected by the legal sector. This definition may seem clichéd but one cannot turn a blind eye towards the entwining of the two.
The legal industry has been experiencing an era of transformation owing to the much needed advent of technology. Now, the relationship between law and technology seems interlaced and inseparable. It cannot be denied that technology has supported the legal business world and brought in a modern work culture.
Not only has the technology aided lawyers to research for their matters and arguments, it has also brought in a range of other possibilities resulting in the emergence of a large number of legal tech companies all across the globe. Many such legal tech companies are dealing with online services such as creating contracts, patent/trademarks filing, online legal documents, database for legal research, among many others. However, the most valuable or beneficial development in this legal-tech field seems to be the establishment of platforms through which clients can find lawyers.
LawRato.com is one such leading start-up in this arena. It is an interactive online platform enabling clients all over India and even abroad to hire and find the best lawyers for any court in the country. Its mission is to make the legal experience smooth and incredibly easy for the distressed clients.
As funny as it may sound now, in the olden days, if an individual had a lawyer in the family, only this lawyer would be approached for every legal need, requirement and question, whether it was his area of expertise or not. It goes without saying the fee taken by the family lawyer would be “concessional”. In other cases, when one didn't have a lawyer in the family, you’d have to look for one and it was never easy to find advocates and attorneys with the requisite and appropriate expertise for your matter. It functioned on the basis of word of mouth.
This huge problem of finding the best advocate, and for the advocate to find apt clients was definitely made easier after such legal services by legal tech companies made their way. The lawyers on LawRato have to complete a thorough profile about their education and legal practice. This can be reviewed by the person looking to hire a lawyer. This ensures that you get the lawyer that suits your needs.
Not only are the clients benefitted by getting a chance to assess their probable lawyers and finding the one that resonates with their case, even the advocates benefit by being on such platforms. They get more clientele and of course those cases/matters that match the lawyer’s experience. It is definitely a win win situation for both.
LawRato is helping ease the issue of transparency and efficiency in the client-lawyer relationship and is bridging a gap between the two. Apart from helping clients find attorneys, it is also providing a platform wherein real people can post their legal queries and questions and get them answered by legal professionals, absolutely free of cost. It also renders a service of chatbot with a friendly interface as a tool to reach a solution to their real problems.
Talking about the legal tech world, what is even a start-up without a mobile app? LawRato has not stayed behind and built a one of a kind phone application that allows lawyers and even clients to automate their ‘legal worries’. It helps in managing court dates with live updates and notifications on cases across every court in India.
Future of Legal Tech in India
We see how the industry is already changing and growing, and the legal scene is being made easier and more convenient for the public at large due to the areas which the legal tech companies are tapping. It is no secret that India is a country with a gigantic population and on record there are around 1.5 Million lawyers practicing to cater to the legal needs of a soaring population of 1.3 Billion people. In order to make this proportionate, we need a larger number of lawyers. Since this is the situation, in India especially, the technology in the domain of legal practice has a vibrant and dynamic future. The new age tech-savvy lawyers in the country are proactive and seeking to get accustomed to new systems of working and getting work done. They are aware that by harnessing new technology in the legal space, they will be a step ahead of those that are functioning with the same, age old, traditional practices in the field.
Although, Indian legal tech start-ups are looking into online services and products just like the rest of the world, namely, contracts, legal documents, helping clients find advocates, online filing services, etc., the implementing of tech has the potential to make the legal practice in the country reach new heights. It is also anticipated that Al would be able to predict the possible outcome of litigation, thus helping the lawyer, or at least giving him/her a direction to providing adequate solutions to the client.
The debate on whether a lawyer can be completely replaced by technology / Al, remains and in the current times, such replacement seems like a distant reality. For now, though, the future of legal tech start-ups in the legal research and lawyer search portals seems very bright. LawRato, built in 2015, for example, has been continuously growing and expanding and tapping into different arenas till date. To solve the major legal issues mentioned, it has forayed into this field using the most recent and updated technologies, including Al, data analytics, machines, coding, etc.
Considerations a legal-tech start-up entrepreneur should not ignore
The world is becoming faster and the legal world is not going to be far behind as long as innovation and technology are woven with law. This is the time when legal tech start-ups can truly shine and set their niche since without a doubt there lies an even brighter future for tech in the legal field.
An entrepreneur must keep some things in mind if he/she is planning to or already running a legal tech start-up, apart from the other general considerations. To begin with, a legal tech start-up should place itself as a tool of service and not as a competitor in the market. It should be the prime aim of such start-ups to develop novel processes and technology in order to make it easy and effortless for lawyers to solve and fulfil their clients’ issues and needs. It is important to gain the trust and support of lawyers as this would help in scaling up your enterprise and will also motivate you to make new products and develop new technology. It is of prime importance that you fully understand the legal world in the respective country of your business - how the courts run, the laws, the legal needs of and the problems that the people of the country face, etc. It is rightly said that your ‘market study’ is the first step towards your business success.
Law is constantly changing, and so is technology. The main task of legal tech is to assist the lawyers and the clients. Although machines cannot be entirely trusted to take subjective decisions and it is impossible to replace the skilled lawyers and firms with automation and computers at least for now, the legal work can be made more efficient and lawyers more approachable, and that is exactly what the legal tech start-ups aim at doing.
The initial traditional, meticulous, manual and laborious work of the lawyers is being made easy with the use of technology and these start-ups are enabling the lawyers to replace hard work with smart work, thus increasing accuracy and availability of time with the lawyers so that they can do more in less time. Technology has come to the rescue to make faster and mobilize the stagnant, stuck-to-the-desk and pen-pushing style of work in the practice of law. Advocates now do not need to sit in libraries for hours, type on typewriters and find clients through contacts only. The tasks and work that took days to get completed can now be done in a matter of few hours in the modern times. In today’s day and age, a legal professional wanting to increase his/her know-how and productivity cannot possibly ignore or avoid the intertwining of the technology in the legal field.
The relationships between clients and law firms/advocates has also improved. Even the tech savvy, well-connected and aware clients seek more than ever from the lawyers, including but not limited to transparent services and fixed fee structures. The e-data available also allows lawyers and firms to understand the clients’ requirements in much better ways, thereby meeting the clients’ expectations.
With this advance in technology, a refined system has been formed and is continuing to form, with speedier disposal of cases, consultations of clients and legal analyses. Needless to say, the times ahead in the legal tech world will be exciting.
About the Author “With a vision to make expert legal advice accessible to the common man, Rohan Mahajan started LawRato.com in 2015, making it India’s leading legal advice and lawyer search platform that helps over 1.5 Million Indians find the right legal advice through 10,000+ expert lawyers across India every month”