“You can’t handle the truth!”
Okay, we just could not resist. You are familiar with that line from A Few Good Men, right? If you are in the legal profession – or if you have been watching legal dramas and films – you would be aware that it is not always exciting courtroom sessions that make the bulk of the work. Instead, lawyers, paralegals and other professionals spend hours and hours sifting through case files and other documents, in order to beef up their arguments or support their cases.
Which is why digitalization of documents has been a boon for judges, lawyers and other professionals. But while documents are increasingly getting indexed and made available online, it’s not as simple as Googling a topic or case file. Most resources are still very cluttered, generic or mostly just irrelevant.
Here is where Mylegalwhiz comes in. The resource is a subscription-based knowledge-base that is accessible from the web or from a mobile device. Mylegalwhiz emerged as one of the two most promising startups at the Philippines Satellite held on April 13.
According to co-founder Dexter Feliciano, the resource will be useful for anyone involved in the legal profession. The team basically focuses on giving “lawyers, paralegals and students of law a smart and simple alternative for legal research.”
What’s the difference?
Dexter says that Mylegalwhiz’ unique proposition is in its curated content. “Our unique value is the curated and annotated legal content (legal encyclopedia) that’s constantly updated based on our customer’s feedback, inputs and search behaviors.” Additionally, Mylegalwhiz includes “a whole suite of features that other content providers don’t have, like ‘my library,’ ‘notes,’ and filtered keywords that are linked to cases that actually discuss it.”
In his pitch, Dexter highlighted that the best benefit of using Mylegalwhiz is time savings, which in the legal profession is very important, since “time is gold.” Lawyers charge by the hour, but not all research legwork and overhead is billable, and so much time can be wasted without the proper resources. This also translates to better value for clients, since they get better results faster and at a lower cost. Additionally, Mylegalwhiz can be used as an easy reference while in court, since it can be accessed through data-enabled mobile devices. Dexter says that Mylegalwhiz has judges using the service while court is in session.
Mylegalwhiz was launched in 2012, but has actually been in the works four years prior. Dexter started compiling content in 2008 while still in law and MBA school. “I started envisioning a digital law office with a lot of features. But I learned that it was hard to release it after testing the concept. A lot of people like the research but did not really understand the whole ‘digital’ law office concept at that time. So I changed my strategy and focused first on legal research–which is really the ‘heart of the product.” Dexter then invited fellow lawyer and MBA graduate Katrina Chua to join the team.
Mylegalwhiz is incubated by Kickstart, and was given seed funding by Launchgarage as part of its first batch of Garageheads in October 2012. At this point, Dexter says the team is looking for additional funding to accelerate development. “[W]e already validated that there is a need for our product because of our paid subscribers. We also need to focus on customer acquisition efforts and efficiency in our system to facilitate our growth,” Dexter said.
Currently, Mylegalwhiz has about 1,300 paid subscribers from among lawyers, law students and other professionals, with subscription being set at PhP 500 (US$ 12.50) per month. The potential market in the Philippines includes the 40,000 plus active lawyers registered with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the team says Mylegalwhiz could be ported to other jurisdictions, as well, although the focus is currently the Philippines.
Dexter said that the team has partnered with Ateneo Law School (one of the more prestigious institutions in the Philippines) and law firms in the country. This gives them an edge, since law schools and law offices also contribute to the knowledge base, and can be helpful in curating content.
As for the team’s experience with the local startup ecosystem, Dexter is optimistic, but he says, “we need more ‘truly’ inspiring success stories of entrepreneurs for it to continue to grow and improve.”