Tech and tradition join forces in the legal industry

Margaret Paton

Fixed-price quoting, reviews of lawyers’ services and digital platforms to encourage collaboration are some of the neat ideas now fast emerging thanks to legal services disruptors. But they’re not calling themselves that.

Six-month-old, Crowd & Co, has Jarred Hardman at the helm, inspired by 15 years as a big-firm lawyer who branched into risk, strategy, operations and notched an MBA on the way.

“We’re not here to disrupt the market. There’s a place for contract lawyers to do business in a different way … so we’ve created a legal hub with tools for the lawyer such as full task management, video chat, full invoicing and a payment gateway,” he says.

“We give lawyers more work flexibility and our customers access to qualified lawyers in a transparent environment at better rates.”

Crowd & Co works by enabling customers to post their job needs and budget on the portal, after which, the platform’s pre-vetted lawyers can pitch for the jobs. A star rating will guide customers on the lawyers’ performance.

So far, Crowd & Co provides access to 120 lawyers in Australia, 100 in South Africa and 400 in India, enabling them to work with each other, corporations, law firms or the general public.

As a “non-technie” bringing technology into an industry which has, to date, been slow on the uptake, Hardman admits that surrounding himself with “good mentors and people” has been crucial to the journey.

“Leveraging online marketing, SEO and content to win new business has never been a traditional strength of lawyers."

Meanwhile, tech has been a strength of Damien Andreasen, who three years ago co-founded website, LawPath; his third tech company which also received seed funding from the same angel investor who founded Pandora jewellery.

Andreasen, whose business employs 12 people, says: “Every time we went through the process of setting up a business, it was a complex and time-consuming experience. The traditional legal industry hasn’t changed.”

LawPath offers customisable legal documents for business, patent, trademark and company registration, and uses data to “intelligently identify customers’ legal gaps”. You can source three fixed-price quotes in four hours from Lawpath’s network of more than 650 vetted Australian lawyers. The site has helped more than 22,000 customers, reportedly saving them $6M collectively, Andreasen says.

“Leveraging online marketing, SEO and content to win new business has never been a traditional strength of lawyers; they’ve always relied on networking to win new clients.”

Change is happening, but where to next? Data management and automation are under the spotlight. In the US, lawyers are already harnessing artificial intelligence to do legal research and data in seconds. Hardman eludes to this when suggesting the industry could automate due diligence, contract review and data analysis.

Andreasen is already leveraging from the data his site collects: “Every time a customer takes any action on our site, we understand more about their business and the legal solutions they need. Our customer surveys show more than 80 per cent of SMEs don’t have all the right legal solutions in place; the use of data and intelligent technology will solve this in the future.” 

Margaret Paton

Former Sunday Age staff journalist, Margaret Paton (formerly Jakovac) has written widely for corporations/government departments and more than 100 online/hard copy mastheads in regional NSW, Sydney, Melbourne and Europe.

Image: Eugine Kim, Flickr Creative Commons License

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