Lawyers, let EasyLaw do the running for you
By Anushia Kandasivam January 31, 2018
- Founders with varying experience pool knowledge
- Injecting tech into law, but more digitalisation is needed
MALAYSIA-based startup EasyLaw is one more legal tech startup in the burgeoning legal tech industry. EasyLaw provides a land search service, calculation service for legal fees and real property gains tax, and digital access to a number statutes and rules of law through a website and app.
Like all great Malaysian ideas, this one started at a mamak, one of the ubiquitous restaurants serving Indian-Muslim and other Malaysian food.
A group of friends, some of whom would become the EasyLaw founders, were discussing innovative ideas, technologies and startups that disrupted their markets and realised that Malaysia’s legal industry needed a digital service that made certain tasks easier and more efficient.
The EasyLaw founders all come from different backgrounds and bring different skills to the table.
Founder June Low comes from a digital marketing background, co-founder and chief executive officer Glenn Low is an engineer by training and has experience in the edutech industry, co-founder and chief operating officer Choo Jun Kuan has experience in the banking industry, and co-founder and chief technical officer Cheng Kah Hoo is a full stack programmer.
The startup has a legal advisor - Andy Low, a partner in a Kuala Lumpur law firm - and a technical advisor – CEO of software development firm Agmo Studio Tan Aik Keong. The EasyLaw app was built by Agmo Studio while the website and system structuring were built by the in-house tech team lead by the CTO.
“We all have different skill sets and specialise in different areas; we have combined all these skills to create EasyLaw,” says Glenn.
“We believe that when you use your existing skill set and transfer it across industries, it makes a great difference. Sometimes you can see what people within the industry can’t. That’s where you can add value,” adds June.
Efficient, but not completely digital
EasyLaw operates on an on-demand pay-per-use basis where users pay an RM20 (US$5.10) service fee for searches that are local to the location of their law firm and RM30 (US$7.80) for outstation searches on top of the usual RM30 land search fee, for example. Users have free access to the digital statutes archive.
June says that the EasyLaw service is time efficient and, despite the service fee, is cost efficient for law firms, especially smaller ones that do not have their own runners.
“If a law firm has to do an outstation land search, especially one in a rural area, they have to spend their time looking for a lawyer in the area who can do it for them, and then expend cost on the exercise. Lawyers’ time is very valuable,” she says.
While the service may be more efficient, the rub is that it is not 100% digital. Users can input information for land searches through the website or app and receive the information through email, but, at the backend, EasyLaw employs runners to make the searches at the land offices because the land office itself is not digitalised.
“Being completely digital would be ideal. It would be great if the land office digitalised everything. We want to be a part of that,” says June.
Meanwhile, EasyLaw employs every possible freelance land office runner in Peninsular Malaysia, reveals Glenn. The startup got them on board the same way Grab got its drivers – going out and talking to them, persuading a small group to sign up who then spread the word to their peers.
“They have been very open-minded about going digital – as have the lawyers. The app also makes it easier for the runners to manage their search requests,” says Glenn.
He adds that the input from the runners and lawyers during the app-designing and building process was invaluable to creating a solution that really makes their jobs easier.
More study needed before expansion
EasyLaw is currently only in Peninsular Malaysia, though lawyers from East Malaysia do use the app to conduct land searches in the peninsula. The founders say that the startup will expand services to East Malaysia soon, but did not reveal when.
As part of its expansion plans, EasyLaw has joined the Future Law Innovation Programme (FLIP) run by the Singapore Law Academy. The six-month structured programme provides workshops and mentorship about the Singaporean legal industry.
According to June, the programme will allow EasyLaw to understand the Singporean market and the needs of its lawyers better so that the startup can develop needed solutions for them.
“In terms of product need, Singapore doesn’t need a land search app. They are much more advanced in legal tech than Malaysia. When we do go in, we want to know what part of the industry has not been covered and how we can differentiate ourselves,” she says.
She reveals that EasyLaw has partly developed an app for the Singapore market though it is putting off completion and launch until it completely understands the market. “We believe we are not ready yet.”
“We want to set our feet right in Malaysia first. Once we hit our targets here, we will see how our app can be developed to cater to the needs of the Singaporean lawyer. FLIP will help us do this.”
The platform has had about 20,500 app downloads and installations by lawyers and legal-related parties since it was launched in March last year.
EasyLaw calculates this as about 25% of all Malaysian lawyers. There are about 5,000 – 6,000 active users of the app each month.
For this year, it is targeting 30-35% of all Malaysian lawyers onto the app. The founders declined to reveal revenue targets but did reveal that the startup obtained angel funding in December last year (the amount remains undisclosed).
The funding is being used for product development and talent recruitment. “We want to focus on our IT and growing our tech team. Being a tech company, this is the next important step for us,” says June.
She adds that whether or not a startup secures funding or makes an announcement about it is not a big point, rather how it executes the business is important.
“Execution is everything. How you make it work is most important.”