Legal entrepreneurship and innovation in Canada is not exactly bursting at the seams. This country is well behind our common-law cousins in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Hoping to change all that, a new law-focused hub called LegalX launched last night at the MaRS Discovery District.
LegalX focuses on the intersection of high-potential ventures, technology, design, and the legal industry. It will be supporting ventures that are pursuing innovation through new legal platforms and processes, artificial intelligence tools, transactional apps, and more. At the helm will be Aron Solomon, MaRS’ innovation lead and Jason Moyse, the manager of legal business solutions at Elevate Services. Both are entrepreneurs and former lawyers.
Last night’s launch included the debut of Law Scout, a MaRS-based legal tech startup that connects small businesses with lawyers who’ll provide flat-fee legal services.
Lawyers Shane Murphy from Toronto and Derek Hopfner of Edmonton along with their colleague San-Francisco based lead developer Travis Houlette are the founders of the new venture.
Both Murphy and Hopfner left their law firm jobs about six weeks ago to focus full-time on Law Scout.
The idea was born two years ago after Houlette had tried to get some legal work done and found the whole process lacked clarity in terms of fees, timelines, and more.
“We’re old friends, so this all came from trying to find new ways of doing law,” says Murphy.
Aimed primarily at small businesses, lawscout.ca provides an automated client intake and then funnels lawyers to the clients who will be provided with flat fees and timelines for their matter.
Murphy says they’re aiming for the relatively untapped market of small businesses that aren’t currently using lawyers because of the confusion and the hassle.
So who will be providing that labour and employment, business startup, and leasing advice, etc. to the clients? At first it will be Murphy and Hopfner and as the needs grow they will bring in other lawyers from their network.
“We will match growth with needs,” says Hopfner.
They will vet any lawyers who will be providing services through the site while ensuring clients are happy. “It’s about matching the client to the right lawyer,” says Hopfner.
And while Law Scout will be offering flat fees, they insist it won’t be a race to the bottom.
“It’s not about bidding wars,” says Murphy.
Their aim is to provide transparency for everyone while using technology that makes the process simple and efficient.
All billing and invoicing will be online, making it easy for the lawyers providing the legal advice as well as their clients.
They stress Law Scout is not a law firm but rather a way for those with legal needs to hook up with those who can assist with those needs at a reasonable price.
“Once that’s done,” says Murphy, “it moves to a lawyer and client relationship.”
The quoted legal fees all go to the lawyers but the site will make money through a “technology fee” that clients will pay.
“It’s free for lawyers,” says Hopfner.
LegalX is currently accepting applications from ventures innovating in the legal field through tech, design and service delivery. To apply, visit the website.