This legal tech startup is raising the bar for technology penetration in the sector, focuses on customisation
They say knowing is half the battle. And when fighting legal cases, knowing you have the backing of a reliable legal team will go a long way. However, finding the right legal professionals or law firms has always been a challenge for the ‘aam junta.
Himanshu Gupta, founder of legal tech startup realised this gap while working with LexisNexis India, one of the largest content aggregator and publishing firms in India.
“I joined LexisNexis in 2008 when they started with online content aggregation. I started as a product manager, and in nine years, rose to become Associate Director-Online Solutions. In this time, I realised that when people needed legal resources, professionals, etc, online was the first place they searched,” he reminisced.
At Lexis, Himanshu worked closely with the legal ecosystem, creating research solutions for legal professionals. This helped him understand their real problem statement - that of lack of visibility, leading to fewer business opportunities. Plus, for consumers seeking information, there was a dearth of awareness and accessibility to good resources as well.
India generates more than three billion legal interventions per year, and there are 2.3 million registered legal professionals in the country, out of which, roughly 80 percent are actively practising. An average of 100K legal professionals join the stream every year, says Himanshu.
According to him, despite these towering figures, the conversion rate is extremely poor. On the demand side, consumers are not aware of basics like when, where, how and why - so they tend to avoid reaching out for help. Moreover, there is a social stigma associated with legal issues in the country, which also discourages them.
Further, on the supply side, while lawyers manage and provide legal services to their best, customer acquisition is not their forte. After realising this huge gap in the market, in 2017 Himanshu set out to organise this unorganised sector and laid the foundation for Lawyered.
Himanshu was not new to entrepreneurship. During his corporate journey, he started a tech-services platform, which did not see the test of time due to several reasons including lack of product-market fit and misunderstanding amid co-founders’.
“Luckily, the only thing I lost at that point was “money”. What I gained was tremendous experience. So, before venturing into Lawyered, I precisely knew what things don’t work,” he chuckles.
Lawyered: Working with a three-pronged approach
The platform has been built with a vision to change the way people interact with and within the legal industry. Himanshu believes Lawyered is solving the age-old challenges by creating an ecosystem adopting a three-pronged approach where:
- legal professionals make themselves discoverable & accessible to legal advice seekers; thereby bridging the unfathomable gap.
- provides a platform for legal professionals to connect and interact with in-house counsels, solving their need for legal representation
- solves the never-ending agony of law students concerning their need to connect with law firms for internships, job opportunities, networking, mentoring, learning, etc.
Although this was a challenging task considering the microscopic penetration of tech in the legal world, the sector unfortunately is one that still continues to work with its age-old and legacy mechanics. Most stakeholders have gotten very comfortable with it. To bring about a change in the way an entire industry works and interacts is a challenge the startups in this industry continue to face.
“However, with the newer generation of lawyers who themselves are tech savvy - it is much easier to convey and showcase the power of our platform. But due to COVID-19, everyone across the globe has understood the power of digital,” said Himanshu.
Today, Lawyered claims to have reached over 200K monthly hits on its platform, and has catered to queries from over 50K startups, more than 10K corporates and 100K individuals, and helped them get easy access to legal advisors.
They were also part of India Accelerator’s second Cohort programme, and have so far raised nearly US$ 200K from investors within India, the US, UK and Canada. With a team size of 30 operating from four cities in the country, the platform gets queries from over 200 countries.
“With nearly 50K lawyers on our platform, we now have a presence in over 95 percent courts in India. This kind of a foundation makes our position immutable,” adds Himanshu.
“No direct competitors for us”
In the past few years, India has seen a rising bandwagon of legal tech players. This includes PracticeLeague, Lawyer24x, SoOLEGAL, Legal Salah, and MikeLegal among others. However, Himanshu believes that none of these are direct competitors for Lawyered., Presolve360, Legal kart, Ipleaders,
“It's like comparingwith . We may have a similar target group and similar operations but how we approach the problem and the actual market we tap into is very very different,” he asserts.
Lawyered leverages the power of technology and provides e-discovery for its clients (lawyers). The team is tapping all avenues where a consumer (on the demand side) may search for lawyers and are working to ensure that its clients are the first in the line when being looked up.
“We also provide consumer-focused solutions at nominal subscription charges whereas our "competitors" work largely on a commission-based model which falls under solicitation and touting, flouting certain regulations made by the Bar Council of India.
To put it simply (at the cost of perhaps oversimplifying it), our "competitors" cook and feed their clients - but we are in the business of teaching how to cook. We are sure you understand the rest,” adds Himanshu.
Moving ahead with Lawyered 2.0
Lawyered started as a multi-sided platform with revenue generation from only its customers (i.e. lawyers). The other side is subsidised. For legal advice seekers, the platform provides free quotes, free appointment booking, 24x7 access, verified lawyers, 30 minutes free consultation and end-to-end support.
Going forward, the company is working with its vision for Lawyered 2.0. With this, the team aims to now gradually structure the demand from reactive to proactive.
That is, instead of letting the consumers (i.e. legal advice seekers) wait till they run into problems - the team is working towards empowering them such that they can nip the legal issue in the bud rather than landing in a mess.
“In our vision for Lawyered 2.0, we will additionally be offering customised focussed solutions like toolkits, and on-demand services,” says Himanshu.
For the lawyers, the platform equips them with better avenues for spreading the rule of law, which indirectly leads to the inflow of business.
This allows them to demonstrate their knowledge, prowess and expertise which can be seen by potential clients, be omnipresent and universally reachable through both online and offline modes, and align them with the narrative to increase legal awareness through conversations and content.
“India is the world's largest democracy. With over 40 million pending cases in various courts, the need for legal interventions is increasing every year. Further, the penetration of technology in the legal sector is arguably the least - so this field is full of opportunities, and the future seems extremely promising. At least the way we see it!” concludes Himanshu.