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Divining client needs with a NewLaw kind of science

Divining client needs with a NewLaw kind of science

According to the CEO of LawPath, if you think the NewLaw industry trades only in ‘disruption’, you are wrong.

Dominic Woolrych believes that there is a more intelligent end game to the NewLaw strategy beyond disrupting how things are done in the legal industry.

That end game hinges on client needs and, according to Mr Woolrych, LawPath has developed a special way to predict what those needs are and when they will arise.

“Clients are transacting through our platform all the time. What that means is that we can become more and more intelligent,” Mr Woolrych said.

“When the business is interacting online and in one location, it means that we can capture data from them on every interaction they make with us. That can be completing a document or it can be asking a question,” he said.

LawPath was established in 2014, and has grown as a major segment of its clients’ businesses have also matured.

Mr Woolrych suggested that by analysing the evolving profile of its client businesses, the people behind the platform are learning when to expect requests for a certain document or legal advice.

“At the moment we have chosen to specialise in business law and what we really want is to follow the business all the way through its life cycle,” Mr Woolrych said.

“We will know if a client needs a shareholder agreement and we know if they need to assign intellectual property.

“The system will automatically either look at drafting the documents, or suggest guides and additional information that the client might need,” he said.

Mr Woolrych spent over two years working as the head of legal for the self-described “provider of cloud legal services” platform known as LawPath.

He has just taken the over the reins as CEO of the legal platform, which boasts a 40 per cent start-up client base and offers two distinct services.

Users of the platform are able to open an account with LawPath and have all their legal needs met in one central online location, Mr Woolrych said. The platform offers a suite of speedy, automated documents which clients can customise to their needs, as well as a marketplace for legal service providers to provide clients a fixed price quote for a ‘brief’ that clients post online.

“We have the largest lawyer marketplace in Australia with 750 lawyers right now,” Mr Woolrych said.  

“Everyone is a lot more open to transacting with clients online and the great thing is that clients are becoming really confident and happy to transact online too,” he said.

At first, the marketplace attracted the interest of sole practitioners and small firms wanting to better engage with clients online, Mr Woolrych said. Now three top-tier law firms and swag of prominent Australian mid-tiers have also joined the LawPath marketplace.

Once work according to the client brief is complete, LawPath releases the fixed fee to the lawyer or law firm.

“LawPath users can log back into their account, just like Airtasker or any other marketplaces out there, and see a list of all the different quotes from firms that have been submitted,” Mr Woolrych said.

“They can see the lawyers’ profile, and importantly, all lawyers are rated and reviewed.”

Of course, all NewLaw business offerings are touted as a more cost-effective alternative to the old way of doing things, and with a faster turnaround to boot.

While cost and speed relate directly to the client experience, Mr Woolrych maintains that the entire system needs to be reimagined. He said that LawPath is following the lead of its 35,000 clients, mostly small- to medium-sized businesses, to reimagine the legal landscape.

“One of the things about legal has always been that it has been reactive. We want to flip that on its head and be proactive,” Mr Woolrych said.

He explained that traditional legal models are reactive as a matter of course, because legal services are so expensive that clients are only inclined to engage a lawyer or law firm in the event something has gone wrong.

In addition to cost, LawPath has discovered that 80 per cent of its clients are put off by the complexity of having to seek legal advice from a professional.

Mr Woolrych said he hoped the simplicity of LawPath’s offering encouraged people to get advice from the right sources, rather than taking their legal questions to Google.

“We need to change that, and lower costs by using technology, to prevent things from going wrong because they have been thought about before they have the chance to go wrong,” he said

LawPath’s services are available to clients around the clock, every day of the week. Mr Woolrych said his vision for the platform in his new CEO role is to expand its partnerships with software like IBM’s Watson to develop more interactive and user-friendly products.  

“The [future direction] of LawPath is going to be about more data. The more information that we can collect about our clients, easily (through the actions that they take), the better placed we are to serve them down the line and in the future,” Mr Woolrych said.

“Our passion is about taking technology from other industries and applying them to law. That will be the future,” he said.

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