Whether it’s working with major law firms or big companies, most LegalTech startups have prioritized the business-to-business (B2B) aspect of the sector, leading to significant innovation in that space in the last five to 10 years.
This one-sided focus, according to Pierre Proner, co-founder and CEO at U.K. LegalTech firm Lawhive, has created a huge gap at the consumer side of the market, where high legal prices and lack of access to lawyers often prevent consumers and small businesses from seeking quality legal aid or upholding their legal rights.
It’s this gap that Lawhive has been trying to close since it launched 18 months ago, providing an online platform connecting lawyers to potential clients, many of whom “have had a legal problem for two to three years that they have not been able to solve,” he told PYMNTS in an interview.
Today, the U.K. firm operates across 12 different areas of law, including cases related to employment, family law, property and wills.
Another area where they’ve seen a huge demand for legal support is around consumer rights cases such as refunds and compensation for canceled flights — an issue Proner and his co-founders experienced during the pandemic, eventually inspiring the launch of Lawhive. That particular area, he said, continues to be a huge growth driver for the company.
Meeting Lawyers’ Demand for Flexibility
According to Proner, there’s a major trend and movement away from the traditional law firm model, with an increasing number of attorneys embracing the flexibility that freelance work provides them.
“A lot of the solicitors and lawyers that operate through Lawhive [have] left larger firms and want to practice on their own and have the freedom and flexibility in the way that they operate,” he explained.
While this trend matches the evolution in employment norms in many other industries, solicitors in the U.K. were only allowed to operate outside of regulated entities in 2019 — creating a tailwind for the LegalTech platform to attract solicitors in search of more flexible working conditions.
However, choosing to go it alone comes with its own challenges. As Proner noted, “The burden of regulatory compliance is no less for a small firm or an independent freelance solicitor than it is for a large firm.”
To tackle this problem, Lawhive is leveraging automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline a lot of the work that lawyers do on each case, including repetitive administrative or onboarding-related tasks.
Their software-as-a-solution (SaaS) tool, which seeks to augment efficiency through AI and not replace human expertise, Proner said, makes “the actual delivery of legal work and expertise easier and more cost effective” for clients.
And when lawyers are able to serve more clients as a result of efficiency gains, they are able to pass on cost savings to consumers without any impact on their own earnings.
“Clients are charged a third of the amount that they would ordinarily have to pay in order to justify the time that the lawyer is taking. For us, that has been a radical realization and quite game changing on the consumer pricing-access side,” he said.
For all PYMNTS EMEA coverage, subscribe to the daily EMEA Newsletter