With technology disrupting and simplifying everything, from how we choose our outfits to how we buy our groceries, it is no surprise that even traditional industries like law are joining the tech bandwagon. Although still in its early stages, legal tech startups have started coming into their own over the last few years. According to venture capitalist database CB Insights, legal tech startups have raised over $700M in funding since 2011. The number hasn’t quite grown in proportion to the dollar value opportunity within the industry, perhaps due to the complexities of a regulated sector. However, individuals and startups have found new and interesting ways to connect consumers to the legal ecosystem.
Here are some legal startups that are resolving complexities and bottlenecks that both consumers and businesses, as well as the legal sector, have suffered for a long time.
Founded by Rohan Mahajan and Nikhil Sarup, Lawrato is an online platform to discover, consult, hire, and rate lawyers. The platform consists of over 7,000 rated and reviewed lawyers across 500+ cities in India. The service exists in two languages currently – English and Hindi. Consumers have the option of interacting with them through email, call, video conference as well as face-to-face meetings. Stringent in their screening process, LawRato is known to deactivate lawyer profiles that get low ratings consistently.
LawRato raised an undisclosed amount in Series A funding from Indian Angel Network and UK-based Nitin Singhal in November 2016. The platform aims to onboard 1,00,000 lawyers in India and launch in five more regional languages to reach out to a wider audience in 2018.
First headquartered in Chennai, VakilSearch has grown tremendously since it was founded in 2011. Since then it has a presence in all major Indian cities. The company has a significant clientele of business owners looking to get legal help and support online. The 120-member team at VakilSearch consults businesses and individuals in starting up, business expansion, IP protection, tax compliance, legal documentation, and even accounting services. Earlier this year, the company set up a GST microsite to help businesses comply with and understand the new tax regime.
Funded by Kalaari Capital, VakilSearch’s client portfolio now includes brands like Citibank, CII, Axis Bank, HDFC among others.
Founded by Vikas Sahita, NearLaw uses AI to help lawyers and legal professionals access legal information and companies access relevant specialized lawyers for their specific needs. Natural Language Processing (NLP) ensures that the searches are relevant to their case. The company’s legal marketplace includes legal services for small and medium-sized businesses, startups, as well as individual consumers.
Launched in mid-August 2017, NearLaw's freemium AI-enabled database product can be used by lawyers, law firms, solicitors, companies, CAs, CSes and any legal professional to search for relevant case-law.
NearLaw’s deep tech capabilities and value-based pricing are said to be its differentiators, according to Sahita.
Bengaluru-based LegalDesk was founded by Krupesh Bhat and Ashok Kadsur to provide a platform for legal documentation. Both businesses and individuals can access a convenient Aadhaar-based e-sign workflow and digitize their paperwork process.
With over 23,000 registered users in less than two years, LegalDesk has helped consumers draft agreements and contracts, access ready-to-use templates, as well have their legal documents home delivered together with stamp paper.
Lawyered is an invite-only network of sound legal professionals, built through recommendations from industry experts. Businesses and consumers can tap in on the expertise of these lawyers through just a few clicks on the website. Founded by Shashank Tiwari, Gauri Bedekar, Raghav Shekhar and Lakshya Kamboj as recently as last year, Lawyered now operates in Bangalore, Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, and Hyderabad. The company’s invite-only model is its key differentiator in a market flooded with fly-by-night legal advisors.
In a little over a year, Lawyered has generated Rs 40 lakh in revenue through subscriptions from corporate lawyers and has a retention rate as high as 90 percent. According to the company’s website, the Lawyered database has an average experience of at least seven years. The company also has an advisory forum for lawyers and small businesses where they can access information, ask questions, and respond to time-sensitive legal and tax compliance related questions.
In an industry marred by the red tape of paperwork, Chandigarh-based E-Weblog is a refreshing change. Founded by husband-wife duo Vikas Pandit and Pallavi Mishra, E-Weblog allows lawyers to digitize case diaries and courtroom notes through an Android and iOS based app.
The company then expanded to a full-fledged freemium web-based portal with advanced features like one-click email, daily case list, client fee management as well as SMS notifications.
Every year, several lawyers take on pro bono cases to ensure that underprivileged and marginalized communities around the world get legal assistance free of cost. However, so far this sector has been largely unstructured in India, with very little that connected the communities in need with specialist lawyers.
In order to resolve this bottleneck and enable a fairer and more convenient access to justice for all, Swathi Sukumar and Shireen Irani came up with iProbono. It is a network of lawyers looking to do meaningful work and non-profit organisations working with marginalized groups.
In the six years that iProbono has been around, it has appointed regional representatives in five cities – London, Delhi NCR, Dhaka, Colombo, and Rio. From child sexual assault and abuse to HIV patients, women and slum dwellers, iProbono has been leading the charge for legal rights of marginalized sections of the society.
The Layman’s Lawyer
In order to make the legal assistance seeking process less intimidating for the average citizen, Tanushree Nandan and Shankha Shubhra Kundu started The Layman’s Lawyer in 2016.
Its services include business incorporation, corporate, regulatory, and statutory compliance, ready-to-use document templates for rental and lease agreements, affidavits, and wills, document drafting and vetting services through email, legal consultations through email, teleconference, and video calls, as well as lawyer appointment and booking assistance.
A startup for startups, bCompliance helps primarily new entrepreneurs but also corporates and individuals in legal and compliance management services. The app-based platform operates on iOS, Android, and Windows. Services include knowledge tools, quick and convenient interaction with experts, and query support.
The core objective of bCompliance is to make compliance more convenient for organizations of all sizes. Downloadable from app stories at mere Rs 10 per month, the database features business and commercial Acts, rules, circulars, notifications, cases, forms, tax calendars, forum and queries, and general industry news and updates.
With legal jargons and complicated case files, Indian laws have remained alien and intimidating to the average consumer. Nyaaya is an effort in educating them about legal rights, penal codes, and specialized laws.
A non-profit backed by Rohini Nilekani and founded by Srijoni Sen and a team of engineers and lawyers, Nyaaya is the country’s first online repository of every central and state law. Explanations are in simple English and are organized to maximise relevance and ease of discovery. An example of how relevant this service is for Indian consumers, the website hit the coveted 10,000 hits mark in just 24 hours of existence. The future holds audio-visual tools and local languages for just over a year-old Nyaaya.
The list is far from comprehensive as we are only starting to scratch the surface of legal tech and the disruption it is capable of. Other notable mentions in the space include MeetUrPro, IndiaFillings, Vahura, Legistify, LegalRaasta, VentureEasy, HiGrit, HelpMePAPA, GetLegal, Grayscale and several others addressing challenges faced by and unique needs of legal professionals, clients, employers, and students. In case we have missed you do drop a comment and we’ll take note.