“It’s Law Just Made Simple” by LexNove, an online legal platform that seeks to strip away inefficiencies of the big law environment and facilitates access to those who need it most – at fixed, transparent, free market prices – without compromising on the quality of the legal service being rendered. By Gugu Lourie
LexNove is a South African-first online legal platform for clients to find a “perfect” lawyer online.
Co-founders of LexNove – Andrew Taylor and Kyle Torrington – with six and five years of respective legal practice experience believe that their start-up “is a revolutionary concept which seeks to disrupt a very established industry – the legal fraternity”.
How does LexNove online platform work?
The LexNove platform allows users to submit a description of their corporate and commercial legal problem and receive a free early case assessment by qualified legal professionals, who guide the user through the creation of a project brief.
The project brief is then submitted to a panel of pre-vetted service providers who bid, at fixed prices, to assist the user in the resolution of their legal problem, which is conducted, safely and securely through the unique online ecosystem.
All project funds are protected by bank-grade security in its third party escrow facility, giving users and service providers’ peace of mind and comfort in the knowledge that the funds are only released once the work has been done.
The platform promises to save clients up to 75% of their legal costs.
Basically, it’s a marketplace for vetted lawyers to compete for a client’s business.
TechFinancials.co.za spoke with both Taylor and Torrington about their reasons for creating this start-up, and why anyone should trust lawyers on their platform.
How did you finance your start-up? Have you receive any seed capital investment?
The start-up has been self-funded to date – needless to say we have sustained ourselves largely on Baked Beans and Frisco. We have, however, sourced some late stage seed funding.
Why LexNove? What is the problem or challenge you are trying to fix in the legal fraternity through this platform?
We believe that LexNove represents the logical and very necessary evolution of legal services, as it seeks to leverage the benefits of technology while tapping into a far broader trend towards value based professional services. LexNove provides access to high quality, vetted legal service providers who have expertise in the user’s precise area of need and bid, at fixed prices, to provide the legal services, stripping away many of the inefficiencies of the traditional legal environment. In essence, LexNove seeks to solve three problems:
i) Hourly rates are traditionally beset with uncertainty, as a client doesn’t know what his/her ultimate cost exposure will be. Fixed priced legal services provide the client with far more certainty in this regard.
ii) Clients often struggle to source the correct legal practitioners with experience in the field of law required. LexNove creates an informed decision point from a range of subject matter experts, allowing the user to decide based on the price, the previous user ratings and reviews and the legal pedigree of the service provider.
iii) Legal costs are often exorbitant, but, with the LexNove bidding process, our legal practitioners are able to undercut the average proposal amount, thereby driving down the cost of legal services.
What difference is LexNove aiming to make to those people seeking legal help?
The South African economy relies heavily on the private sector, with a particular burden on the SMME sector; yet, the benefits of high quality legal advice are all too often unaffordable for this segment.
Why create an online legal platform?
Using an intuitive online platform allows users and service providers from all over South Africa to connect, regardless of geographic limitations. The LexNove technology includes a secure virtual boardroom where users and service providers are able to privately exchange documents, connect with each other and soon arrange live video consultations with their chosen service provider. The technology is out there and we all use it every day, LexNove is merely bringing this innovation to the legal environment and providing the infrastructure to find your perfect lawyer.
Who are the main target clients for your platform?
From a user perspective, our early adopter target market is small to medium enterprises, entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to access high quality legal advice. From a Service Provider perspective, we aim to recruit lawyers who have, for whatever reason, left the big law environment to establish their own smaller, niche firms, allowing us to tap into the quality of their legal pedigree without the typical constraints applicable to the large law firm environment and, of course, providing a greater security as to the quality of the service providers.
What’s the uptake so far of the platform?
We have seen significant interest from the entrepreneurial sector and have received extremely positive feedback from all the users and service providers on the platform, since the launch of the site on 9 July 2015. In addition, several in-house legal advisors have also approached us, which allows them to demonstrate direct cost savings and obtain an informed decision point in appointing a legal service provider.
Why should we trust the lawyers that you are using?
LexNove ensures that only the highest quality service providers are recruited to the platform through a rigorous interview and vetting process, since we understand that the service providers we use are crucial to the overall success of the LexNove vision and not just an individual matter. Once on the platform, service providers are routinely rated and reviewed by users and sub-par ratings will result in the service providers being excluded from the platform, thereby ensuring that over time, only the best service providers remain on the platform.
What risks does your business face?
LexNove is a revolutionary concept which seeks to disrupt a very established industry – with this comes the need for education and the willingness and dedication required to overcome the resistance to change, which some users and service providers may experience before consuming our services.
Have you faced any challenges so far and what has been your biggest mistake in starting LexNove?
Believing we could do it alone. We initially tried to hack together our platform using our own rudimentary programming skills, believing we would be able to get the platform up on our own. We very quickly learnt we were out of our depth. This taught us the huge importance of forming strategic partnerships, allowing us to leverage our partner’s strengths in tandem with our own. It also taught us the value of the entrepreneurial community and its willingness to pay it forward – a value we have tried to instill in ourselves and our corporate culture.
How many lawyers have uploaded their profiles with LexNove?
We have had significant interest from attorneys across the country, but we have purposefully limited the number of service providers on the platform to 35 firms, to ensure that the service providers currently on the platform carefully match the volume of project briefs flowing through the site.
Is it free to use the site?
Use of the site is free and there are no obligations to follow through with any of the proposals received, but where user and a service provider do end up engaging with each other, we charge the user a service fee equivalent to 10% of the value of the proposal selected.