How to Build A Legal Advice Platform?

The legal services industry is booming. A Statista report recently mentioned that in the US, the industry will generate US $ 288 billion in revenue, up from US $ 256.66 billion in 2013.

The internet is playing a key part in this boom. A Capterra report highlights that in 2017, 70% of law firms generated new cases via their website. The report also states that 74% of legal consumers visit law firm websites to help them with their legal requirements.

You can tap into this growing market by creating a cutting-edge legal advice platform. In this article, I will explain how to build a legal advice platform.

Contents

What is a legal advice platform?
Legal advice platform examples
Legal advice platform features
How to build a platform for online lawyers using WordPress
Create your own legal advice platform using a custom development approach

What is a legal advice platform?

Laws are complex. It’s a plain fact of our modern life. Most commoners need better clarity on matters legal. They can engage lawyers and law firms, however, they need additional help. Most common people would love the opportunity to study and analyze the legal requirement they have on hand.

A legal advice platform helps them to connect to lawyers and law firms, additionally, it also provides them with much sought-after legal information. This can cover a wide range of legal requirements, for e.g.:

  • Workplace compensation and benefits;
  • Procurement matters in a corporate context;
  • Questions about “Non-Disclosure Agreements” (NDAs) or “Non-Compete Clause” (NCC);
  • Preparing legal documents;
  • Advice about launching securities investment contracts.

To know about services that a legal advice platform may provide, you can visit the LawAdvisor homepage, where they cite many use cases.

Legal advice platform examples

Let‘s review a few popular legal advice platforms.

DirectLaw

DirectLaw is a client-facing legal document automation platform, additionally, it‘s a virtual law office. The company has a secure, cloud-based platform to deliver online legal services.

Their services portfolio includes the following:

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  • Client-facing document automation;
  • Contact using online forms;
  • Online document review;
  • Legal advice over the phone, and email;
  • Coaching services for court appearance;
  • Authoring own documents;
  • Unbundled legal services;

The company allows online payment for their services, furthermore, appointment scheduling is possible online.

Linkilaw

Linkilaw is a legal platform focused on businesses. The company offers a wide range of services, as follows:

  • Fundraising;
  • GDPR and data protection;
  • Intellectual property law;
  • Commercial property law;
  • Business legal support;
  • Document review;
  • Employment law;
  • Commercial law.

They offer a few free services, such as one-to-one sessions with legal specialists, a start-up legal report. Subsequently, a customized solution catered to specific requirements are offered at negotiated rates. The company claims that they are affordable. They also claim to offer legal advice in simple terms.

LawAdvisor

LawAdvisor is a very popular legal platform. They deal with many specialties, for e.g., corporate, workspace, contracting, etc. The platform offers the following features:

  • Users can easily find legal advice according to their convenience.
  • There is a specific suite of services for corporate entities. For e.g., enterprises can streamline their procurement legal processes using this platform.
  • Their practice management platform helps law firms streamline their operations. This is suited to law firms.
  • Their RapidContract service uses cloud computing technology to automate contract creation.
  • Businesses looking to raise fund can create their necessary legal documents using this platform.

The company uses cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, blockchain, and robotics.

Legal advice platform features

A legal advice platform needs to offer a comprehensive suite of services, additionally, it should be feature-rich.

A competitive legal advice platform should offer the following services:

  • Coverage of a wide area, for e.g., corporate laws, workspace compensation & benefits, labor laws, contract laws, data privacy and security, intellectual property, commercial laws, family laws, etc.
  • A skilled pool of lawyers should cover different geographies and time zones.
  • The platform should offer fundraising legal support for businesses looking to expand.
  • A good platform should offer document authoring services, additionally, consumers should have an option to create their own legal documents using tools and templates.
  • Document review service is important.
  • Contract writing, both manual and automated, should be offered since this is an important service.

Offering a comprehensive suite of services is important, but it‘s not sufficient. The platform should market itself well, attract consumers, and retain them. Read more about this in “The Top 15 Legal Marketing Statistics for 2017”. For this, the platform should offer the following features.

  • Consumers should be able to schedule appointments online.
  • Online payment facilities for legal services are important in today’s age of the Internet.
  • The platform should feature very good quality explainer videos for their services.
  • Contact forms should be prominently displayed since many people want to use a website contact form after searching for law firms on the Internet.
  • Contract writing, document authoring, etc. are technology-intensive services. For e.g., the platform should save consumers time and energy by maintaining a rich library of contract templates. Using cutting-edge technology like blockchain, with a special focus on smart contracts can help.
  • A market-leading legal advice platform will probably serve more than one matured markets. They might also target emerging markets. Laws are complex in any country. When you talk about building legal expertise covering multiple countries, the complexity increases manifold. Breakthrough technologies like AI and machine learning are important for processing a high volume of information. The platform should invest in these technologies.
  • AI bots should also be used to cater to common legal questions.
  • The website should have high-quality content.
  • Social media integration is important since law firms get many leads from LinkedIn.
  • The company should focus on personalized content.
  • The website should be mobile responsive and offer an easy ’User Interface‘ (UI).

How to build a platform for online lawyers using WordPress

This is an option if you don’t have a highly skilled development team. WordPress, the most popular content management system (CMS) helps to build a website quickly. Many providers offer themes for WordPress that can help you get a professional look and feel about the website.

Many more providers offer WordPress plugins. These address many common functionalities a website needs. Together, themes and plugins make it easy for non-technical entrepreneurs to quickly launch their website. WordPress CMS and themes have easy customization options therefore, you can easily integrate your branding information.

While there are many free and premium WordPress themes, I recommend you use the “Legal Help – Law Firm WordPress theme”. The theme enables you to create your content easily with page-builders. It‘s a responsive, retina-ready theme. The ThemeForest webpage includes the pricing details.

A website for online lawyers needs a contact form. Users should be able to schedule appointments online. There are WordPress plugins for these and several other required functions. Read “5 WordPress plugins: law firm websites” to find appropriate plugins for your requirements.

There are many good WordPress hosting providers in the market. I recommend TMD Hosting. The cost to build a legal advice platform using the WordPress approach will include hosting, WordPress premium theme, and WordPress premium plugins. You don‘t need website developers.

Create your own legal advice platform using a custom development approach

You can also make a legal advice platform using the custom development approach. This enables a greater customization. Following is the approach:

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  • Design and develop the website UI;
  • Use ’Application Programming Interfaces‘ (APIs) to address common functions;
  • Engage a ’Platform as a Service‘ (PaaS) provider to manage the infrastructure, middleware, runtime, etc.

The legal advice platform development team

You need to assemble a team with the below skills:

  • Business analysts;
  • Web designers, with HTML and CSS skills;
  • Web developers, skilled in a common web development language like Java, JavaScript, or PHP.
  • Testers;
  • A project manager (PM).

The PM should be conversant with modern PM methodologies. You can consult our guide “Top 7 project management methodologies in 2018” for more details.

A website is a customer-facing tool. These are called ’Systems of Engagement‘ (SoEs). SoEs require frequent enhancements. An iterative development methodology is appropriate for these. I recommend you use the ’Agile‘ methodology for this project. Check our guide “How to build an Agile development team” for more details.

API options common legal platform functions

You may need to use a combination of various APIs available for legal advice platform development. Review the following API options.

Rocket Lawyer APIs

Rocket Lawyer APIs lets you include features such signing and filing legal documents. These APIs are provided by Rocket Lawyer. Their APIs are easy to integrate. In the future, when you want to launch a mobile app for your legal advice platform, these APIs will make it easy.

There are other advantages to using these APIs while designing an online legal services platform. You can customize the user experience according to your requirements. These APIs are scalable, feature-rich, performant, and secure. You can get e-Signature and electronic filing APIs. Check their pricing plans here and contact them for more information.

Avvo APIs and widgets

Avvo offers APIs for legal data. They also provide widgets for websites. The Avvo APIs enable you to provide several data elements in your website. This can be a list of lawyers with specific expertise in a locality. You can also publish valuable legal guides on various legal topics using these APIs. Access these APIs and their comprehensive documentation here.

Avvo offers two widgets that you can add to your website. These are “Ask a Lawyer”, and “Find a Lawyer”. It‘s easy to add widgets to a website, therefore, your virtual law firm platform development gets easier. Access these widgets here. You need to contact them for their pricing details.

Free Law Project APIs for US Supreme Court data

Free Law Project” runs on voluntary contributions from interested parties. They have collated plenty of data regarding the US Supreme Court. Their sources are the US Supreme Court database, the Library of the US Congress, etc.

If you are developing a platform for on-demand legal services in the US, this vast Supreme Court data could be of immense interest to you. The data includes opinions, citations, etc., furthermore, this is directly sourced from the US Supreme Court website. Access their APIs here.

Expedite virtual law firm platform development with a PaaS

Most likely, you want a quick ’Time to Market‘. You need to expedite your development for this, therefore, I recommend you use a PaaS. A PaaS provider handles quite a few aspects, as follows:

  • Cloud infrastructure;
  • Network;
  • Middleware;
  • Operating system (OS);
  • Runtime environments;
  • Databases;
  • API integration.

Using a PaaS provider requires you to sign-up for a PaaS provider for a fee. You choose a runtime environment, for e.g., a Java runtime environment on AWS. There are databases you need to choose from, for e.g., AWS Cloud Databases. You bring your code and data, subsequently, you develop your app. This saves plenty of environment provisioning and management time.

There are several PaaS providers, for e.g., AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Google App Engine, Salesforce Heroku, etc. For this project, I recommend AWS Elastic Beanstalk. You need to create an AWS account.

Useful tools to build a platform for online lawyers

You need to use effective tools for this legal advice platform development project. I recommend the following:

  1. AWS DevOps toolset for testing automation, continuous integration, build management, and deployment automation.
  2. Trello as the project management tool. Our guide “The 10 best Agile project management tools in 2018” has more examples of PM tools, if you need them.

In the future, you might want to launch a mobile app for the legal advice platform. Our guide “How to convert your website into a mobile app” can help.

Managing the online legal services platform development project

I recommend the popular iterative development technique ’Scrum‘ for this project since this falls within the larger Agile methodology. Your PM acts as ’Scrum master‘, whereas a ’Product owner‘ provides requirements in a ’Product backlog‘ document. You build a cross-functional ’Scrum team‘, i.e., developers, testers, and designers work together in a small team.

The team estimates features and the scrum master conducts a ’Sprint planning meeting’ to plan ’Sprints’, i.e., iterations. The team conducts a ’Daily stand-up meeting’ to discuss project status, and the scrum master resolves issues. When the features are demonstrably ready, the project stakeholders review them in a ’Sprint review meeting’. They approve the sprint if the features are working as expected.

The team also conducts a ’Sprint retrospective meeting‘ after the sprint. This is a lessons-learned exercise. Read more about it in our guide “How to build a Scrum development team”.

The cost to build a legal advice platform using the custom development approach

You need to contact the API providers for their pricing plans, whereas PaaS providers display their pricing plans on their website. Your development manpower cost depends on your features and the labor rates in your geography.

This is a complex development project therefore, you may need to get professional help. Our guide “How to find the best software development company?” can help you in conducting an effective due diligence.

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Aran Davies

Aran Davies

Blockchain Expert | Developer | Writer | Photographer
Aran Davies