The legal world, today it looks anything but digital. The legal landscape is usually complex, non-transparent and not always customer-friendly. That is why there are a number of start-ups that want to shake up the sector under the name legaltech, a concatenation of legal and technology. And this idea is also popular within The Birdhouse. We spoke to three legaltech start-ups from the Birdhouse nest: Lawren.io, Jureca and Contractify.
“I was too much of an entrepreneur.”
Dries Wijnen is one such innovative lawyer. He is co-founder of Lawren.io, a startup that builds legal chatbots. “I studied law and then I worked at a series of law firms.” he explains.
But there I quickly saw that I was
too much of an entrepreneur to continue in the classic legal sector
He trained at Vlerick Business School and founded Lawren.io together with Dominic Wijnen.“We noticed that law firms today
work.” explains Dries.“We did a study and it showed, for example, that
48% of all legal documents are simply never digitized
. And that reduces efficiency. Tasks such as drawing up contracts and doing research take longer and the service is not always customer-friendly.”
Their solution? Smart legal chatbots. “We ensure that lawyers work more efficiently and in a more customer-friendly way.” sums up Dries.“We build
legal chatbots that automate certain tasks
. Think for example of a customer intake. For example, a customer can use a chatbot to indicate that they want more information about divorce. The bot will then explain the procedure and, should you wish, we will arrange an appointment with a lawyer specialising in the matter within minutes. But our chatbots can just as easily generate legal documents for clients. And they even look up previous court cases through AI when a lawyer reviews an application the chatbot received.”
And that idea turned out to be very promising. In this way they helped the
Order of Flemish Bars already setting up a chatbot
And interest is growing. “A lot of large offices are now contacting us because they also want a chatbot.” says Dries
Legal advice for everyone
Jureca is another legaltech startup from the Birdhouse litter. They want to improve the legal market and do so through an online marketplace. “We started out very modest.” looks back at co-founder Edgar Warmoes.
I had a friend who was a lawyer but was struggling to find clients. So I built him a site.
From this modest project emerged Jureca, a marketplace that today serves 300,000 unique visitors per month.“We provide legal advice for everyone and for every problem.” explains Edgar.“We are a kind of marketplace for innovative legal solutions, such as legaltech services.”
The service then runs in different phases. “We first try to generate documents automatically, which can be
For example, templates or, say, a penalty calculator.
. So there we are automating legal aid. Then there is a second layer, where a lawyer gives you tailored advice. Which is often cheaper than a lawyer. Finally, there is a third section, where we make referrals to law firms.“
Based onyour needs, they will refer you to the right person or service. “We want to help consumers and businesses as legally as possible.” sums up Edgar. And about three years after the first idea, the growth is now starting to set in. “We found our product-market fit.” explains Edgar. “Now we are
ready to scale
. We already have a customer base, and we’re working to increase it.”
“SMEs lose value”
But legaltech is certainly not just about the legal profession. Subjects such as contracts are also covered. Something start-up Contractify is an expert in.“In a previous job we saw how contract management often goes wrong.” tells co-founder Herlinde De Buck.
For example, contracts were often scattered across the sites, or not even present. We also noticed that there were things in there that were never followed up on, such as end-of-year discounts or growth bonuses..
So they set up a own start-up that on the one hand builds SaaS software to manage contracts and on the other hand also offersservices around this. “We saw that there was enormous value in contract management.” tells Herlinde. “It doesn’t make sense to spend so much time negotiating contracts if you simply never follow up later.”
And that lack of contract management has its consequences. “If you have contracts
contracts are not managed, money and time are lost.
” states Herlinde. “About
80% of contracts with tacit renewal are extended without control, 25% of contracts are untraceable and management often lacks an overview
about the contractual arrangements. In practice, we notice that many organizations do not manage their contracts, or manage them too little or at least efficiently.”
Contractify is now bringing their solution to the market in full. “Our software has been launched for just over a year now.” explains Herlinde. “We now have a client portfolio with great references such as Manpower, Vivaldis and Insites Consulting. There is also interest from law and accounting firms. They want to use Contractify as a software platform to offer new services to customers.”
Lawyer of the future
Legaltech sounds like a disruptive story in which traditional players will have to leave the field. But this is not necessarily the case and start-ups can work perfectly well with existing players. “We may be disruptive, but we also work with lawyers.” tell Edgar of Jureca. “Lawyers are certainly allowed to offer their services on our platform. We’re not kicking the industry to the curb.“
Dries from Lawren.io agrees. “We absolutely do not want to replace the lawyer.” he explains.
We think it’s super important that the quality and expertise of a lawyer gets to the people. We just want it to be done in a transparent and customer-friendly way.
Meanwhile, legaltech is also starting to gain traction in Belgium. “You notice that a lot of offices realise that they have to change.” continues Dries. “Legaltech is still in its infancy in Belgium, but there is a realisation that offices need to start working differently. Because there are more and more start-ups that want to do it without lawyers, and big companies are also looking at the market. Something has to be done and if lawyers want to prepare for the future they will have to reinvent themselves.”