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Logging into the courtroom: New legal tech startup takes disputes online
Laura Keily, founder of Immediation
Tue 4 February 2020 - 9:48 amStartup
The aim of Laura Keily’s legal tech startup, Immediation, is to make the legal industry easier to use, more cost-effective and more accessible – by moving disputes from the courtroom to online.
Laura has two decades as a commercial lawyer and barrister behind her. From her experience, she found that it is almost impossible for people to navigate the court system unless they have enormous resources.
As a result of seeing this day in day out, last year she decided to formally launch Immediation in order to make legal dispute resolution available to everyone, including small businesses.
Laura founded the tech business in March 2017 and it has grown hugely in numbers, with team members located across Australia.
To get it off the ground she raised $500,000 with family and friends, and added to this a further $1.5 million from the Accelerating Commercialisation Grant.
We wanted to find out more about her vision for the legal industry and how Immediation will postitively change the archaic systems.
What specifically is it that makes the legal system so hard to navigate?
Our legal system is complex, lengthy and expensive whilst also being steeped in tradition. The legal profession is based on ancient tradition and precedent which is highly valued. In some aspects, today’s practices still mirror the court system from 200 years ago, embedded with historic rules and drawn out processes.
While in some cases it is great that we still have every single piece of evidence challenged in a courtroom setting with two barristers and two solicitors on each side, this ancient tradition also deters people from seeking justice as businesses simply can’t afford the potentially one to two years in legal fees required to achieve this.
This is a core reason why the legal system can be so difficult for small businesses and consumers to navigate. As the times have changed, the current processes haven’t scaled and streamlined appropriately.
It has meant our courtrooms and the judges who preside over them are also often overrun with cases, particularly in some areas like family law. This can often mean that despite everyone’s best intentions, justice isn’t always a guarantee.
Are these problems applicable to Australia or wider spread? If wider spread, is your business plan to go global?
While some countries are progressing faster than others the problem is global. The process is costly, lengthy and complex and for many, it means justice is simply not accessible to everybody.
Currently we are focused on the Australian market but we see huge opportunities globally to scale our offering.
What gave you the initial confidence to start your own business?
With over 20 years of legal experience, spending some of my time in the ‘win-win’ mindframe of doing deals as a top-tier corporate and transactional lawyer, to then moving into the litigation environment, I was taken away by how difficult, expensive and impenetrable the current legal processes were for so many of my clients.
I realised early on that there had to be a better way to handle dispute resolution; one that allowed for innovation using technology to play a greater role in justice and maintaining relationships, as well as facilitated compromise and enabled early deal-making to resolve disputes rather than fostering aggressive positional battles.
My innate understanding of the challenges the legal industry faces, as well as running my own small business as a barrister, gave me the confidence to start Immediation.
How specifically is the tech going to modernise legal systems?
The tech will modernise the systems by developing a location agnostic platform where clients can directly access world class dispute resolution services, we are allowing people to achieve dispute resolutions in a much more affordable and accessible way. Small businesses often shy away from making claims as traditionally it is a time consuming and expensive process to undertake.
Immediation’s platform reduces the lengthy process claimants and defendants often undergo to reaching settlement as it provides a new framework to streamline the process making it more accessible for an average business or consumer.
Our multi-room video chat function also helps parties save time and costs associated with having to physically travel to a neutral location. It also frees up the courtrooms which are currently inundated with cases.
Is this designed with a specific end-user in mind? I’m sure this is something sole traders and small businesses could benefit from – does it cover commercial law?
Our long term vision for Immediation is to help make dispute resolution more accessible for all. Our initial focus has been on commercial disputes, mainly centred around assisting small businesses and faster more accessible pre-trial mediation, but this is ever expanding.
We have been working closely with the insurance, construction and insolvency industries as all are very heavily in need of better, faster dispute resolution. In the coming months we will also be expanding our services further to begin to tackle some of the issues in the family dispute resolution sector through our platform.
Read more: How much do legal services really cost?
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