Issues and problems with Online Legal Services in India

Posted On : April 13, 2017
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I was reading the story of one of the first movers in the Online Legal Services industry and was not so surprised to see that one of their Clients has published a comment on their service wherein the Client, who hired a Lawyer from Bangalore through their platform, had to pay advance amount of Rs. 22,000/- without getting the “proper” legal service. Here, I am neither trying to qualify the services of the lawyer nor the online services being provided by this Company. What I am trying to bring to fore is that there are many known and unknown issues with the Legal sector and one cannot claim to know and understand everything about it. If one claims to know, then may be at his/her own peril. The caveat emptor will not work here. Legal sector is uncharted territory and one can see lots of beautiful mermaids (read opportunities) in it but the moment one starts wading or swimming towards them then one realizes that the water is full of piranhas. You get bitten many a times and even fall prey to the piranhas. Let’s ask some simple questions here. If this sector is so lucrative then why none of the corporate houses have ever tried to enter the sector? Why the well-established principles and theories of business world do not work here in this sector? Why don’t we have even a single Legal Business Strategists in the business world? The answers are not tough to understand but certainly tougher to articulate.  I am going to give it a try here. Let me try to do the mission Impossible, Tom Cruise style. Legal sector due to its idiosyncrasies has inherent systemic qualities. Apart from the religion and religious leaders, lawyers are the second lot to get respect from the common people not out of respect but out of fear. (Good lord, we lawyers are just one step away from being closure to the GOD). Fear of law, fear of unknowns, fear of unending time taken to get judgement, fear of the perceptual loathsome figure of a lawyer, fear of white shirt beneath the black robe, etc. Can we, the online legal service providers, break this psychological “untrue” fear in the minds of the common people? It’s a question to take back home and ponder as the answer can’t be given in few days or months. So, the point here is that it’s not the sleek looking website or the American accent speaking founders of this companies who can remove the veil of fear but something damn drastic that we need to innovate. We need to provide the psychological comfort to the Clients, at large and then think about any business model. Having said that we do need to remember that in India “one size doesn’t fit all”. Meaning we need to be seriously innovative, humane and sensitively flexible to accommodate diversities in thought and needs of the clients. I guess we badly need a machine who understands the Legal world, Business world, Technology world, Psychological world, Finance world and is yet human enough to change, mould, adapt and adopt the ways we deliver the Legal services to our clients. I have lots more to write but don’t want to make this long as Mahabharata, so more to follow on this topic in my next blog.
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