This article is written by Ishan Arun Mudbidri from Marathwada Mitra Mandal’s Shankarrao Chavan Law College, Pune. This article talks about the rise of legal-tech companies in India.
Table of Contents
Concept of legal technology
Technology and innovation have changed the look of the top professions in the world. One such profession is the legal industry. Legal technology has made working easy for lawyers and other legal practitioners. So what is legal technology? Legal technology is the use of software and the internet to deliver legal services. This not only helps various companies trying to make it big in the legal field, but also helps budding and aspiring lawyers, students, and other people involved in the legal field to make a name for themselves by using various online research tools. The main objective of legal-tech companies is to do better than the traditional legal field and fill in certain gaps.
Legal technology is diverse and has a very vast scope. Various concepts have been introduced in this industry to make things easier for legal personnel all over the world. One such concept is that of legal technology incubators. A legal incubator is an artificial intelligence-based software that helps legal tech companies proper guidance and investment. This will help a legal firm to be more efficient and it also promotes legal delivery. Artificial intelligence is the future and any industry will heavily rely on artificial intelligence for its growth. As rightfully predicted, legal incubators are taking the legal industry by storm. Various superpowers like the United Kingdom, USA, Europe, have already adapted to the practice of legal-tech incubators. India also is not lagging in this context.
Prarambh was the first of many
India’s largest legal firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas announced India’s first legal technology incubator, Prarambh in 2019. This was the first step to boost legal innovation in India. The main aim of this initiative was to help young students to get effective solutions to help them prosper in their legal careers. Secondly, to help legal technology companies grow in the Indian legal market.
Here’s how Prarambh works. Every legal start-up has to go through a tough selection process to be a part of the Prarambh program. After getting selected, the start-up goes through a 12 stage process where guidance as to how to set up, financial planning, management, recruiting of employees, objectives of the firm, and various other end-to-end solutions are provided. Further, these start-ups are provided with the exposure needed to attract global investors and also a large fan base. After gaining success in the first installment of the Prarambh program, the Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas group, launched Prarambh 2.0 in October last year. The main focus this time was to assist the legal start-ups badly affected due to the COVID 19 pandemic. This time the program is virtual and for 10 weeks.
The success of the Prarambh program proposes to be the first of many other legal initiatives for legal-tech companies in India in the coming years.
Impact of legal-tech startups in India
Since 2011, India’s legal technology industry has been gaining momentum. Various Indian legal technology companies have been flourishing in not just India but also, in other countries abroad. This will only help in the growth of legal technology in India especially considering that the world is amidst the COVID pandemic.
Features of India’s legal technology market
The legal-tech companies in India provide a wide range of features which is helping them grow. Some of the features are:
Online dispute resolution
Online dispute resolution of ODR is the newest addition to the dispute redressal mechanism in India. ODR reduces the burden on the courts where there is already huge pendency of cases. The individuals can register their grievances just like any other alternative dispute redressal. This helps the consumers because their disputes are resolved effectively. Some of the ODR start-ups in India are presolv360, SAMA, resolve disputes online, center for alternative dispute resolution excellence, etc. These help the people to resolve civil, commercial, and legal disputes in India.
As everything is online these days, it has made the process of verifying documents very easy. A similar situation can be seen in the legal technology market. Legal professionals do not have to physically sign or verify various paperwork and documents. E-signature platforms allow the clients to fill their documents, self attest it, verify, and send everything online. Various legal e-signature platforms are, signdesk, signeasy, etc.
Legal research and analysis
Due to the advent of legal technology, various Indian legal start-ups have started providing information about legal information from all over the world. Legal research due to this has become very simple, effective, and time-consuming, very unlike the traditional process of research. Some of the leading legal technology start-ups providing quality research material are legit quest, casemine, scc online, blog ipleaders, etc.
Managing contracts online
Some legal-tech companies in India are helping legal practitioners to manage their contracts online. The manual process of preparing a contract is very tedious and time-consuming. These companies help lawyers and legal firms draft and send their contracts online. Some of these start-ups are spot draft, legal capsule, koncord law, etc.
The concept of the legal marketplace shows how far legal technology in India has come. This concept is just like Amazon and Flipkart. Legal marketplaces help a consumer to find their lawyers online. The people can seek legal advice from the lawyers of their own choice within their budget and location. The major legal marketplace entities in India are lawrato, legistify, my advo, etc.
Managing intellectual property
Managing intellectual properties can be a risky task, as most of the time, people forget some or the other document. But, with legal technology, this task has become easy. The users can manage their IP documents, and data online through a unified system. Through this, there is a low chance of people misplacing their IP documents.
E-discovery helps the lawyers and other legal practitioners in various legal processes like investigation, collection and storing of data, alternative dispute resolution, exchange of legal information, etc.
Managing legal functions through technology
Legal-tech companies have introduced various start-ups for lawyers and legal firms to manage their day-to-day functions digitally. This legal solution helps the legal practitioners in managing client relationships, managing important documents, managing cases, and much more. Some of these start-ups are practice league, Clio, lawcus, etc.
How legal-tech start-ups are valued
With the COVID 19 pandemic wreaking havoc all around the globe, every single person on the planet is unhappy and suffering losses, let alone a businessman. However, such is not the case for legal-tech start-ups around the world. There is a massive surge in investments and fundings into legal-tech companies. Huge valuations are also estimated in the near future. The main criteria for the growth and success of legal-tech companies can be the type of consumers they attract. Recently, a Canada-based legal technology start-up Clio raised around $111 million in funds and is estimated to be valued at around $1.6billion. Further, the pandemic has also helped the law firms by merging with the legal-tech companies. This has helped in increasing the earnings of the law firms and the legal-tech companies are already on the rise, so it is a win-win situation for them.
Some of the leading legal-tech startups in India
In India, the legal system is slowly getting taken over by various technological advancements. The legal-tech sector is slowly catching up with the traditional legal industry. Literally, for every legal concept, there is a legal tool online. So be it legal research and news, addressing grievances of the users, choosing the lawyers, and much more. Hence, here are some of the leading Indian legal-tech start-ups that have taken the Indian legal market by storm.
This company has been one of the leading legal-tech startups in India. From delivering up-to-date legal content to offering various courses, this start-up is booming. It offers over 60 plus online courses through LawSikho for lawyers, students, government officers, etc. They also provide online diploma courses.
Presolv360 is one of India’s biggest and also one of the first online dispute resolution legal-tech start-ups. They provide dispute redressals through e-arbitration and e-mediation. The users can send their disputes, and with a reputed arbitrator or mediator.
It is an Artificial Intelligence-based legal consultation start-up where the users can take legal advice from lawyers all over India. This start-up currently has a network of around 5500 lawyers all over India. For a practicing lawyer also, this app is very useful. He/she can connect with new clients while dealing with their existing clients.
Volody is one of India’s leading legal-tech start-ups for managing contracts. This artificial intelligence-based software enables users to draft, attest, and send their contracts online.
Mike legal is an AI-based legal-tech start-up for managing intellectual property documents and other IP-related data. This start-up provides users with certain legal-tech tools like mike™ search, mike™ manager, mike litigator, etc. All these tools provide IP management services.
Legit quest legal-tech start-up known for providing users with legal research content. This start-up offers a few features like and search which helps users to search legal cases of their liking, the decision reasoning arguments findings feature which allows users to highlight various features of a particular case like judgment, arguments, facts, etc. and lastly the igraphics feature which helps users to known for providing summaries of cases.
Are legal-tech start-ups the future of legal services in India
With the above-mentioned and other legal-tech start-ups, the future of India’s legal-tech market looks bright. The pandemic being a major reason and a huge boost to the legal-tech companies, we might see these legal-tech companies overtaking the traditional law firms in India in the coming years. Presently, with the court hearings being online, and the whole working online, searching for legal solutions has become easier due to legal technology. There are a variety of legal solutions to choose from. This has brought efficiency and standardization to the legal technology market. The legal solutions provided are time-consuming, easily reliable, and heavily affordable to those suffering from financial concerns. The legal technology solutions have not only helped the clients but also helped lawyers getting research material, drafting contracts and agreements, giving legal advice easily, and staying safe while working from home during the pandemic. Legal-tech companies have also assisted traditional law firms. The law firms have become more flexible and a reliable client-lawyer relationship can be seen. With the improvement in technology, lawyers are now more assured of not being cheated. The legal solutions provided are fast-paced which helps in saving the time of lawyers and also helps them manage their workload. Despite the legal-tech companies having so much to offer, Indian lawyers are still reluctant to adopt this method of practice. This is because they fear losing their jobs and also citing data loss concerns.
We are in the second year of the COVID 19 pandemic which just keeps on getting more and more dangerous. Hence in such times, the most important thing to do is to stay at home and keep safe. So, all legal personnel are working from home. Their work is made easier due to the advent of legal technology. Fast, effective, and reliable legal solutions are being provided to these legal-tech companies to not just legal personnel but also for the layman. Hence, whether this is the future of the legal sector? Is a question that pops up. However, there cannot be a comparison between the traditional legal solutions and the solutions offered by legal-tech start-ups. This is because both are special and equally reliable in their way. So, the best outcome from this will be when both these methods are used together as that’s where the real growth of the legal sector lies.
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