CHALLENGES OF LEGAL START-Ups
By Pradhyumn Charan and Trisha Sharma
When we talk about entrepreneurship and having a start-up there are many challenges. But apart from the challenges that the start-up community as a whole faces there are many challenges that the legal start-up sector has to go through. It is not necessary that all kinds of legal start-ups face all of these problems but they are affected by these problems in one way or another. To start with the first problem faced by the start-ups in the legal sphere is:
The issue of advertising might not be faced by the start-ups in the legal edtech sector or those in the legal database providing sector but this issue is faced by those who are in the field of providing legal services. In today’s time advertising industry plays a very important role in establishing any start-up. It is common that business houses spend around 2% to 5% of annual revenue on advertising. This means topmost companies spend billions of dollars even after getting established. This fact shows the importance of the advertising industry which is estimated to be worth approximately 700 billion Rupees in 2022.
However, the rules that govern the conduct of lawyers do not allow advocates to publicize their services. Section 49 (1) of the Indian Advocates Act, 1961 mentions the “General power of the Bar Council of India to make rules”. This empowers the BCI to make Rules on Standard of Professional Conduct and Etiquette to be Observed by Advocates. According to the Clause 36 under Section IV of the Standard of Professional Conduct and Etiquette to be Observed by Advocates, which talks about Duty to Colleagues, it is mentioned: “An Advocate shall not solicit work or advertise, either directly or indirectly, whether by circulars, advertisements, touts, personal communications, interview not warranted by personal relations, furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments or procuring his photograph to be published in connection with cases in which he has been engaged or concerned”. Because of such provisions, the legal service sector is incongruous with today’s modern technological world. Even if someone comes up with an innovative start-up, such as providing remote legal services, online legal consultancy, etc., they won’t be able to advertise their work and the chances of them becoming a big brand become grim. We know that being a Lawyer is a Noble Profession and it is important to abide by these norms and ethics but in this technological world it is very important that there are certain innovations in the legal field also. Otherwise, the Indian legal tech field will lag behind the rest of the world. There are many start-ups around the world which have provided online legal services which provide services via the internet, people can complete their legal work without disturbing their daily work and people get to know about it from advertisements. It is time that there are some changes brought in the legal services sector in India. It is time that the courts and the Bar Council of India bring some changes to match the speed of time.
The next issue which is a challenge for legal start-ups is
LACK OF GUIDANCE
The students who passed from law schools have made their careers in litigation, judiciary, law firms, etc. but there is no prominent name of a law student in the field of start-ups. This problem affects the next batches of students also as they don’t have proper guidance and support in form of alumni. This is one of the reasons why we see so many successful start-ups from IITs, IIMs, etc. IITs and IIMs have a broad alumni network that provides with necessary guidance, funds, and training. In the law sector till now there is no such alumni support for start-ups. The solution to this issue can be that the successful alumni in the field of law, even if they are not related to start-ups and entrepreneurship, should set up some kind of organization and funds to help such initiatives. Also, in IITs and IIMs there are professors guiding students, student-run initiatives, centers, etc., are there to provide such guidance which is required at the initial stage to kick off the progress. This kind of environment is missing from law schools because they were made for a completely different purpose. However, with whatever purpose they were made but it is the requirement of time that law university should also encourage center like GNLU Legal Incubation Center which supports the students in the field of legal innovation. In fact, innovation in the legal field is minimal and there is large scope for innovation in this area. If the budding students in the field of law are provided with proper guidance, they can unlock this potential. Hence, those, who in the legal fraternity have the resources and power to bring this change by providing adequate guidance should step forward and provide their help.
The next issue which comes to the fore is:
TECHNICALITY IN THE LEGAL FIELD
Today’s time is the time of Artificial Intelligence. Every sector has employed artificial intelligence but the inherent technicality that which legal field carries in it makes the use of artificial intelligence very hard. It is very hard for artificial intelligence to create arguments and also employing artificial intelligence in law is wrong because there is always an element of morals and ethics in law. It is impossible for artificial intelligence to replicate these principles. Now by restricting the use of Artificial Intelligence half of the ways of starting up are closed.
The last issue is:
LACK OF INNOVATION
Even after the advent of the 21st century and multidisciplinary developments in technology all across the globe. Law as a subject and working tract still suffers from obsolete functioning. Today even after ages of development and amendments in the law, legal practitioners are following the age-old legacy of using archaic language with Latin and Greek phrases. These practices result in developing confusion resulting in a language barrier. According to multiple surveys and research which were conducted across the globe a normal civilian suffers in deducing various public documents released by the government because of the complexity of the language. Another setback that is even starker after the big pandemic wave was a big technological chasm in the legal fraternity. In most the courts stenographers today prefer to employ a typewriter into functioning instead of modern methodologies. Because of the lack of innovation and use of archaic methodology many legal professionals lack basic skills and knowledge of modern technology. This chasm has in past caused various unprecedented new forms of crimes to which law seemed blind for a great time. This includes identity theft on
the internet, catfishing, cyberbullying etc. Even today law lacks regulation and doesn’t have set legal principles for data privacy. With the latest introduction and increasing, usage of Web 3.0 people are still clueless about the upcoming laws for cryptocurrency, metaverse, etc where multiple crimes, theft, and breach of Intellectual property rights take place on a daily basis. The lack of innovation also results in lesser dissemination of knowledge. According to an interview conducted by me for my personal research on how easy It is to access legal Information. Various students entering the field of law agreed with the trustable sources being limited to a few and using complicated UIs and codes for their websites. As lawyers lack technical knowledge which is the need of the hour in this time most of the information is either stored in the age-old way of bulky books or the applications which are developed lack sophistication of newer codes like python with the newer operating system such as walrus. Due to this lack of innovation and obsoleteness legal fraternity suffers as a whole.
From this, we can conclude that before we can see big level legal start-ups we need to solve the challenges faced by the legal start-ups.