2014/01/09 by lingdecklee
Ever since I embarked on my very own legal web startup project in June 2012, I started paying attention to the legal web startups around the world. And I have been noticing a visible absence of prominent legal web startups rising out of the various startup ecosystems dotting all over the vast Asia region. Whether this is due to lack of the right chemistry to spark things off or whether entrepreneurs are just not yet taking the legal market seriously, I believe for those who have started something in this part of the world, they are definitely on to something monumental. We are talking about the blue ocean strategy, folks! The way I see it, Asia is currently the perfect place for some doses of disruptive innovation to be applied to its rather conservative legal service industry. It is not a sexy industry to get into, but it is nonetheless one of the fattest.
Joshua Kubicki wrote in his March 2013 article outlining 6 key facts that make the legal industry ripe for disruption and innovation. I will simply list the headings in his article in the following for those of you who prefer a quick read:
1. The US legal industry is roughly a US$300 billion market.
2. Technology is in its infancy.
3. There is a definite supply and talent problem.
4. Access to lawyers is historically a problematic and costly effort.
5. Lawyers used to be the gateways to protected information and knowledge.
6. Finally, and most importantly, the world is getting more complex, not simpler.
Joshua later wrote in his November 2013 article that the global legal market is about US$800 billion in size and growing. According to Alan Hodgart, a legal market guru, he predicts that the Asia Pacific legal market will become the second largest regional market – doubling from US$109 billion in 2012 to US$215 billion in 2017. These facts are certainly something founders and investors should not lightly ignore.
Let me briefly outline some of the more noticeable legal web startups (especially those consumer-facing ones) I came across worldwide (actually, most of them are based in the United States):
- Avvo: Online legal service marketplace, with free Q&A with lawyers; raised US$23 million of VC funds.
- Contractually: Online contract process.
- Docracy: Online completion of contract negotiation and execution.
- Judicata: Turn court rulings into useful information.
- Lawdingo: Online real time legal consultation.
- LawPal: Online legal service marketplace designed specifically for startups.
- LegalReach: LinkedIn version of lawyers network, which also has lawyer referral feature. Other similar startup: wireLawyer.
- LegalZoom: Online DIY legal document service; raised US$66 million of VC funds. Other similar startup: Rocket Lawyer; raised US$53 million of VC funds.
- Lex Machina: Turn IP lawsuits into useful information.
- LexSpot: Find lawyers to deal with immigration procedure.
- Modria: Online dispute resolution services.
- Shake: App for online contract drafting and execution; raised US$3 million of VC funds.
- SimpleLegal: Online management of legal bills.
- Trademarkia (changed its name to LegalForce): Started with online trademark service, now includes other IP and domain name services.
- UpCounsel: Online legal service marketplace, with lawyers providing quotes to the job specified. Other similar startup: AttorneyFee.
- Wevorce: Online management of divorce.
If you are seriously interested in discussing legal web startup in Asia, feel free to have a chat with me.
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