LawRato.com is an interactive online platform that enables an individual to find experienced lawyers in any court or city in India. In this interview with Asia Law Portal, LawRato.com’s Founder & CEO Rohan Mahajan explains what inspired the company’s founding, its’ geographical reach and plans for expansion, its’ reception by consumers of legal services, its’ extensive Pro Bono efforts, the current state and future prospects for legal startups in India, his view of legal entrepreneurship and the company’s goals for the next 10 years.
What is LawRato and what inspired its’ founding?
LawRato.com is an interactive online platform that enables an individual to find experienced lawyers in any court or city in India. With a partner network of 10,000 lawyers spread across 700+ cities and 3000+ courts in India, LawRato facilitates the common man to get the right legal advice on over 120 legal topics.
Started in 2015, LawRato.com is the leading legal advice platform for the common man across India.
Now let me get to what inspired me to start LawRato.com altogether. Back in 2009 when I was working in Singapore and Indonesia as a marketing professional, an urgent legal issue cropped up (property related in India) and to my shock I was left in dire need of help for a lawyer, but to no avail even after spending hours searching for a lawyer online. This made me realise how hard it was to get genuine and reliable solutions for legal problems in India online. I realized that there was no platform which one could trust and turn to, even in this day and age of internet. Troubled by the lack of such a portal and the fact that many would be facing the same issue on a day to day basis, I began thinking of a solution. This is when the seeds of LawRato were actually sown.
I figured that there was no data available on the lawyers’ performances and track records and it was nearly impossible to tell which lawyer would be the right one for your legal need. Perturbed by the lack of data and this much-needed facility, I began working towards my dream which did succour the common man in a bigger way than I thought it would. Finally, the year 2015 witnessed the birth of LawRato.com.
LawRato is headquartered in New Delhi. Do you serve the entire Indian legal market? And do you have any plans for expansion?
LawRato.com has been expanding rapidly across India since its inception and now I can proudly say that it covers every nook and cranny of India. We have over 10,000 lawyers on the platfirm across 700+ cities practicing in all courts in India.
So yes, we do serve the entire Indian legal market – covering the depth and length of India, depth being the lawyers and the legal arena, whereas the length being the expanse of our services throughout the country.
Since the time we have achieved this target, our aim is not quantity anymore, but that of quality. Each lawyer that approaches us to become a platform lawyer with LawRato.com, is required to go through a background check. The lawyers complete a thorough profile about their education, legal practice and background, etc. Any individual seeking legal help can actually review this information and thereafter choose the lawyer based on the lawyer’s experience and the area of expertise. We are also working on providing quality legal content as law guides/articles, youtube videos and law-bytes, thus working towards our aim to spread basic and integral legal knowledge that every individual should be aware of.
What has been the reaction of consumers to your services?
LawRato.com has always aimed at helping the masses – the common man without any ‘legal contacts’. We strive to ensure that our services are not limited to the affluent and metro cities only, but non-metro cities and remote areas as well. As a matter of fact, LawRato.com has succeeded in getting 40% of its users from non-metros and about 30% website visitors on its Hindi language website. We use the power of the internet to reach the needy and the common man.
Clients in faraway cities have actually thanked us as we have not only enabled them to find the lawyer most suitable to their legal problem, but also helped them in saving their travel-time if they were looking for lawyers for legal matters in other states/cities altogether.
LawRato has helped support some in India with free legal assistance. Tell us about that
Apart from business and profit, we also believe in providing free legal assistance in abundance, wherever and whenever possible.
LawRato.com has over 50,000 visitors daily, looking for answers and solutions to their legal queries and problems. Any user can post his/her legal question online for free and it is answered by relevant lawyer(s) with expertise in that particular field of law. This is one of our many ways by which we try to make legal advice accessible to the common man.
We have also proudly extended our support to NALSA (National Legal Services Authority) – which heads the Indian Government’s initiative to provide free legal aid to the needy in the country. As per the tie up between NALSA and LawRato, we have dedicated a section of our online platform to NALSA, thus moving closer to our shared aim, that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any individual by reason of any disability, including economic constraints.
In exceptional cases, LawRato even helps by taking up pro-bono matters in its cart. One such case was the infamous Nirbhaya rape case (a 2012 fatal gang rape and assault case in which the victim suffered ghastly torture and ultimately died). LawRato helped the victim’s parents in their fight for justice, by providing them experienced senior lawyers pro-bono from LawRato’s extensive lawyer network.
Even during the Kerala floods of 2018, LawRato.com helped the victims of the floods by providing free legal advice and aid by local (partner) lawyers in processes like insurance claims, death certificates, application for Government relief and other legal issues.
What are your thoughts about the current and future environment for legal startups in India?
Out of the several kinds of startups, the legal-tech scene has witnessed three most common ones. One of them being the E-discovery kind of startup which enables a user to search through electronic data for legal research, for evidence and documents in support of arguments etc. These kinds of startups help in data and document management.
The second kind of startups offer automation of documents. They work to automate the tasks that lawyers face on a daily basis, such as automatic document reviewing, verifying, updating, etc.
The third kind of startups in the legal-tech world fall into the ‘marketplace’ category. These are those that provide lawyer search and directory services – enabling customers to connect with legal firms or practitioners.
Although the first two kinds of startups are building fabulous tech products, they find lucrative markets abroad and therefore for obvious reasons, prefer doing business outside India. The third kind is found to stick to the Indian market and rightly so and is definitely found to be more tech savvy in the country.
Studying the current legal tech market, a bright future can be seen for the first two kinds of startups – ‘E-discovery’ and ‘document automation’. Adoption of these services with better technology would help give a boost to startups in this space.
As a lawyer by training turned legal entrepreneur and startup founder – do you plan to remain focused on legal entrepreneurship in the future?
Unlike other professions, the legal fraternity, in many ways, has been conservative and slow in both adopting and adapting to technology, and therefore there is maximum possibility and scope to leapfrog in the future in this field. I definitely plan to stay on in the legal-tech market and most definitely as an entrepreneur in the future as well.
I feel my hard work pays off each time a seeker is provided with a lawyer or even an answer to his/her legal query. I am very happy to be a part of this industry where through LawRato I can do my bit and move towards my dream of access to justice for each and every individual of this country.
Where do you hope to see LawRato in 10 years?
LawRato’s vision for access to justice and to simplify the process of acquiring legal help for the common man is not an easy one to achieve. We strive each day in this endeavour.
With millions of pending matters and about 1.6 million new cases being filed each month in the various courts in India, and a whopping 10 million lawyer consultations each month, there’s clearly a lot to do and a lot left to achieve in this field. More than anything, there is a huge gap in how the potential clients approach and interact with the legal fraternity and this is what LawRato is trying to shape, and make simpler and clearer.
We are putting in our best to help in one way or the other, the 50,000+ individuals that approach us for their legal issues each day. However, the dream is much bigger than this and we aim to be the most preferred platform for legal advice and lawyer discovery in India.