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Technology has been evolving more than ever and ruling the world. Each and every sector of the society has become dependent on technology and legal field is no exception. Legal technology or as commonly known as legal tech refers to the use of technology and software to provide legal service, support lawyers by making their work less tiresome, assisting them to provide legal service in a far quicker and efficient manner and make legal content more accessible to the common public.
Technology in the legal field has given rise to Legal Tech Startups and these Startups are those companies which exercise technology and software as their method to provide all legal related work through their online platform. Legal tech is quickly moving from the traditional sector to becoming a significant sector in the mainstream legal industry.
The evolution of technology is the significant reason for the formation of legal tech startups in India. The motive of these legal tech startups is to replace the traditional ways of procedural work which was followed by lawyers & other legal professionals with the budding tech driven things. Today’s modern technology system has made it easier for lawyers to do their jobs more accurately and very efficiently and as a result it has benefitted the common public.
COVID-19 & LEGAL TECH
The unprecedented outbreak of Coronavirus has affected the economy globally. As social distancing was the only way to curb the spread of the disease in the society, the working culture worldwide shifted to the online mode. The pandemic left no sector of the society unaffected including the legal sector. Covid-19 caused disturbance in the legal system, the outdated version of delivering justice and providing legal services. Traditionally, the usual process was to appear physically before the court for hearing one’s matter. However, the pandemic has compelled the legal profession to rely on technology as for instance conducting virtual hearings or videoconferencing where counsels and lawyers can appear online for their matter by sitting at their comfortable spaces. Lawyers too have an advantage of conducting meetings with their clients and delivering solutions to their clients online. The pandemic has transformed the way law professionals & attorneys work. It has brought better opportunities to digitally transform the law businesses. Law schools have also gone digital and transitioned to the online mode of teaching and students have adjusted to the online learning. Technology has not just remained to the top legal organizations but also small legal firms and interestingly legal tech startups have also invested in the same. Pandemic has played a major role and has provided a significant opportunity to legal tech startups in providing legal assistance in every possible aspect. The pandemic has forced the legal industry to improve and move towards digital transformation and the industry has rationalized itself for better.
Legal tech has been increasing in the past few years and has simplified the work in the traditional legal industry. Whether it is virtual hearing, online courts or Artificial Intelligence (AI) based legal research, technology has surely transformed every aspect of the traditional law. Legal tech with the help of modern software brings speed, accessibility, transparency, efficiency, flexibility and convenience in the work of the legal professionals and the public. Some legal tech startups focus on helping lawyers while some focus on enabling lawyers to serve their clients better legal services and operate quickly and more efficiently. The primary goal of these legal tech startups is to simplify the process and reduce the burden of work. Modern technology such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning (ML), Data Analytics and Predictive Analytics are being implemented by the tech startups as well as the legal profession. Besides there are some key features of legal tech such as:
- Legal Research
Due to the advancement of technology, legal research is simplified and it is no more confined to going through books as it is time consuming. Lawyers, in order to support their arguments, refer to the materials available online as they find it a fast and effective way to get work done. Manupatra, SCCOnline, Casemine etc are some of the online available sites where judgements, statues, caselaws, legal news and research can be done.
- e-Signature and e-Verification
Legal professionals do not require to rely on their client to get signature physically because e-Signature provides a platform to the users and allows them to sign their legal documents, attest digital copies and file their paperwork online. Further with the help of e-Verification, the process of proving an electronic signature is solved as it ensures that a document is be tampered.
In the field of legal tech there arises no question of legal professionals having ill intentions to gain money from the client. As legal tech provides a transparent online platform for the users the integrity of lawyers cannot be questioned. Legal tech gives the benefit to its users to select an efficient lawyer of their choice and also keep a track record of all their legal procedures.
Additionally, with the progress of legal tech in the legal industry there is a chance of reduction in the work load and burden on the legal professionals and risks, easily available legal access and automation. Further, by the practice of legal management, lawyers and law firms can manage all their legal functions such as billing, legal document management, contract management such as to manage contracts and negotiate digitally, client relationship management, case management etc.
LEGAL TECH STARTUPS IN INDIA
Startups are usually a young and a fresh company formed by one or more entrepreneurs with an intention and a vision to achieve a particular thing by bringing new ideas and innovations into the market. The demand for legal tech startups in India is rising because these startups provide multiple and better opportunities such as education, employment, legal services, tech innovations and play a significant role in development and growth of the economy. Besides they also offer plenty of legal services in a quick, reasonable and effective manner which not only benefits the customers but also helps the legal professionals as they aim to simplify their work using tech driven solutions. Following are the few legal tech startups in India:
This legal tech startup was founded by Rohan Mahajan. It is an interactive online platform to find and hire lawyers and to provide high quality and cost-friendly legal services to their users. LawRato has answered over 1 lakh legal questions and has close to 50,000 lawyers. Its prominent achievement was to provide Nirbhaya’s parents senior lawyers who acted Pro bono when the case had reached Supreme Court irrespective of the financial success. LawRato offers free legal aid services for female victims of violent crime and war widows.
It was founded by Arvind Singhatiya in the year 2018. LegalKart is an online platform which provides legal advice and all kinds of documentation help through an app. It has enrolled more than 8,000 lawyers in more than 800 cities and has seen individuals buying 20,000 minutes every month to discuss legal queries and procedures and with a fee of less than Rupees 500, an individual can get 15 minutes of time from a lawyer 24×7 on the app.
It is an Online Dispute Resolution legal tech startup based in Mumbai which was founded by Bhaven Shah, Namita Shah, and Aman Sanghavi in June 2017. It was launched with the idea of dealing with shortcomings of the legal grievance settlement system in India by creating a prompt, technology-backed mechanism that allows people to effectively manage and resolve their disputes online in a viable, economical and effective way. It aims to unburden the exhausted Indian legal system while allowing people to find a budget-friendly solution to settle their legal matters.
This is an education startup which specializes in legal education. It was founded by Ramanuj Mukherjee and Abhyudaya Agarwal in the year 2010. It develops and offers online legal courses and business courses which aims to make the legal education accessible through an online platform. The startup offers variety of courses which are useful for all starting from law students, lawyers, legal consultants, government officers etc. The online platform focuses on researching and developing resources through blogging, educational resources, workshops and interactive software that entrepreneurs can use while making their decisions. They also provide an online training material called Bar Hacker for the All India Bar Examinations. In collaboration with NUJS, Kolkata, Ipleaders offers a Diploma Course in Entrepreneurship Administration and Business Law.
It is a legal tech platform which was founded by Himanshu Gupta in the year 2017. It has now received queries from over 50,000 startups, 10,000 corporates and more than 100,000 individuals. It provides an accessible platform for people seeking legal advice to connect with legal professionals and interact with in-house counsels by solving their need for legal representation. Besides, the legal tech startup also helps law students connect with law firms for internships, job opportunities, learning, mentoring, networking etc.
Also read: EXTRADITION LAWS IN INDIA
A Delhi based startup company which aims to bring quick, reliable legal help and guidance to people at a low cost. With their app a user can post a legal query and three to four options of lawyer pops up with their fee, years of experience, ratings, reviews etc. Their service is available 24/7 with the time slots assigned to batches of lawyers who have been carefully curated to take on legal queries at any time.
The Bengaluru based startup was launched in 2014 with an aim to make legal process easily accessible and simplify the process of legal documentation with the help of digitalization. The documents are drafted with utmost caution by a competent team of in-house lawyers at LegalDesk. The startup recently launched eSignDesk which makes signing documents possible even in the physical absence of the parties.
This legal tech was set up in 2011 to help prepare people with their basic legal documents by fixing an appointment with a lawyer and get reliable legal guidance. It provides over 300+ legal services to the public through their online platform. Besides it also has two apps namely “Libra- The Advocates App” which performs as a one-stop case management tool and “MySteno – The Virtual Stenographer” that helps lawyers in drafting legal documents.
It is a Chennai based startup which was founded by Divakar Vijayasarthy and Rajesh Inbasekaran in 2014. The startup brings together tax and legal professionals for providing an accessible service at a very low and standardized prices.
It is a legal tech company that provides cloud based practice management software for law firms. It offers services such as litigation management with data and workflow automation, compliance management, intellectual property management and contract lifecycle management.
LEGAL TECH STARTUPS AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a computer based system that performs tasks which usually require human intelligence. It is transforming various industries and the legal industry remains no exception. It is impacting the legal industry in a very positive manner as for instance in legal research, law students or lawyers manually had to go through physical caselaw volumes to find a relevant precedent which was time consuming. However, with the development and advancement of legal tech everything can be done digitally with just a click and lawyers can get a better insight within minutes. AI has the potential to unlock massive opportunities to transform and digitalize the field of law. As thousands of cases are filed each year AI would help in disposing the case in a faster yet effective manner. The Former Chief Justice of India S.A Bobde had said that the Supreme Court has proposed to introduce a system of AI which would help in the better administration of the judicial system.
Some of the AI based Legal Tech Startups include:
It provides technology solutions to enterprises and law firms in their contract management needs. Through the SpotDraft platform, users can draft, review, edit and manage their legal arrangement and they also benefit from centralized data storage and compliance and risk management functions. It comes with automated reminder options and payment management.
It is a Mumbai based legal tech startup which works towards automating and digitizing the legal process for business across various departments. It aims at providing technology products namely Contract Lifecycle Management, Compliance Management and Digital Board Meeting. Through their platform, users can draft, negotiate, approve and attest to their different legal agreements under one roof.
Precily AI is an end-to-end solution for tax and legal practice and research management with strong workflow management features that enables unprecedented efficiency and control over the entire workflow. This legal tech startup was founded in 2018 by Bharath Rao. The AI based legal tech is a text analysis tool and its engine is capable of analysing legal documents, legal research papers, business documents and others. It claims to provide highly contextual data and facts for preparing submissions to tax notices, legal opinions, tax and legal advisory documents and research.
- Mike Legal
It is an AI based trademark management legal tech startup that automates Intellectual Property (IP) management for owners. It comes with legal tools such as ‘Mike TM Search’ which allows legal teams of enterprises to conduct trademark searches more easily, ‘Mike TM Manager’ which allows users to manage their IP portfolios and track their Intellectual Property use, ‘Mike Litigator’ which enables lawyers to conduct case research efficiently and lastly ‘TM Watch’ where users can analyze their portfolio infringements and take proper action against the infringers.
Inspired by Professor Albus Dumbledore’s memory reviewer ‘Pensieve’ from Harry Potter, this legal tech startup aims to implement better efficiency for legal professionals and law students with an AI engine and Machine Learning (ML) which will help understand complex legal documents, judgements, contracts etc.
It is a legal research platform that provides law students, lawyers and law firms to conduct legal research in a more spontaneous and effective way with their special features such as ‘iSearch’ which automatically lists relevant cases as requested by the user where users also have the option to customize their search options by citation, case name etc., ‘iDRAF’ (Decision Reasoning Arguments Findings) feature that allows a legal researcher to pinpoint various segments of a judgment such as arguments, decisions etc. and ‘iGraphics’ that lists information relating to the number of cases that have been citied and approved.
LEGAL TECH AND INDIAN JUDICIARY
The judicial system in India was slowly moving towards digitalization and implementing technology in the system when the Supreme Court allowed live streaming of oath ceremonies and farewell speeches by judges. Further a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud allowed the live streaming of cases that were considered to be of national and constitutional importance. Due to the pandemic, the judiciary has taken the virtual way to hear the matters and deliver justice. As technology creates a paperless environment it therefore provides an opportunity to the Judges to hear and determine the facts of the case with all the online available precedents and judgments in a fair, reasonable, effective and timely manner thereby improving the administration of the judicial system. The Supreme Court is currently using the ‘Vidyo’ platform for conducting the virtual hearings. In July 2021, Justice Chandrachud said that all judges of the Supreme Court would be equipped with 1000 Mbps internet connection speed to avoid any disturbances which they would usually face. Even during a pandemic crisis, technology has ensured that justice is not hampered with and with the assistance of technology the legal system in India is certain to grow.
From conducting online legal proceedings to providing online legal services and advise, technology has played a significant role in the legal profession and it is unavoidable and undeniable. With the rise of legal tech startups in India, technology has dynamically transformed the pattern of working of the legal professions. As legal tech startups offer a cost effective and user-friendly remedies in a reasonable time, there are chances of a common man to approach these legal tech startups. It also reduces the burden and work load which legal professionals face on a daily basis. Legal tech startups have and promises to bring more effectiveness, efficiency and productivity in the industry as it has great potential. The legal fraternity is moving forward and growing towards adapting technology to make the legal field more approachable and accessible for the public. Digitalization has just started to evolve in the legal industry due to the pandemic and it is here to stay. Legal tech proves to be reliable and more efficient and if implemented correctly it shall provide as an easily accessible platform with a stronger security.
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Author: Akanksha Krishna, VES College of Law, Mumbai
Editor: Kanishka Vaish, Senior Editor, LexLife India.