With its network of lawyers across the country and its intelligent use of new-age technology, LawTrades is on its way to revolutionizing the way one seeks and gets legal advice. Backed by its mission to make legal services cost-effective and convenient, the start-up is giving traditional law firms some serious competition.
LawTrades is far from your usual brick-and-mortar law office. Not only does it match its customers to lawyers best suited to their needs, it does so in a convenient and prompt manner. Even better, clients can seek legal advice by sending a simple text message to larry, LawTrades’ virtual legal assistant.
More so, qualified lawyers are available to answer queries sent to larry 24/7. LawTrades also gives its clients transparent details about fees and makes payment a breeze with Stripe.
Ashish Walia, co-founder and COO of LawTrades, said their start-up closes the gap between expensive legal services and people who need legal counsel.
“For businesses and consumers, despite there being an overwhelming amount of lawyers, legal services are still very expensive,” he said. “Often, people ignore their legal needs because it’s inconvenient and they are intimidated by price. We’re much faster, affordable and easy to work with compared to other law firms. Some firms can charge upwards of $500 per hour, which is insane to us, especially if you’re helping a new start-up, small business or an individual in need of quick legal advice.”
As for the start-up’s inspiration, Walia said it’s to make it easy and affordable for businesses and individuals to get on-demand legal advice by texting larry on their smartphone.
LawTrades is a reality because of their team, which includes CEO and co-founder Raad Ahmed and Amit Roopnaraine, who manages business development. Walia said each of them has a well-defined role in the company, and the division of labor works well.
“Raad is more hands on with the actual product and makes sure it delivers on its mission,” he said. “Amit handles community outreach and manages the user experience and interface design, ensuring the website is aesthetically pleasing for customers to reuse. And I’m more on the customer side. I work on getting more customers and making sure everyone is happy.”
Even though LawTrades’ mission is functionally sound with a loyal following on Twitter and a growing number of well-known businesses using the service, the start-up has faced its fair share of challenges, Walia said.
“Often, you’ll spend a lot of time building a core product, and when it’s time to launch, you realize no one cares–if they do, it’s for a short time,” he said. “Then we have to go back to the drawing board, talk to customers and build a product that they actually want to use.”
Since its inception, LawTrades has pivoted and continued to learn from its users to see what works best when connecting people to legal advisers in an efficient manner.
“Our original product was a website that you use to book appointments with lawyers,” Walia said. “Now, it’s a tool that people use to get in touch with a lawyer right from their smartphone in minutes.”
[From Left to Right: CEO and co-founder Raad Ahmed, COO and co-founder Ashish Walia and Amit Roopnaraine, business development.|Photo Credit: Raymond Eugenio.]
To spread their network across the country in an efficient manner, Walia said the partners overcame many roadblocks.
“Each state has their own bar association so we have to make sure we’re compliant in every state that we operate in,” Walia said. “Also, lawyers are resistant to change. They are used to doing things a certain way without technology.”
However, working with lawyers on a one-on-one basis from various fields and states has been integral to the development of the company, Walia said.
“When we first started, it was all about getting lawyers to trust us,” he said. “We were on the phone all day trying to get lawyers to sign up and make a profile. The goal was to get a few core customers who would find value from the lawyers we had on board, and the hope was, they would later tell their friends to also sign up. And the same applied for lawyers, once a handful of them were making money from our product, they told their colleagues and sooner than later, we had a long list of attorneys waiting to join.”
When asked how they provide top-notch legal advice while keeping their fees low and profits high, Walia said, ”We don’t work with large firms that overbill clients at an absurd rate—we focus on finding quality lawyers that are personable, experienced and affordable.”
“Since services are cheaper with us, we’re all about generating a large demand,” he added.
And with their growing clientele come expansion plans. “We plan on going into more consumer-facing areas like bankruptcy, immigration, criminal defense and more,” Walia said.
As for advice for budding entrepreneurs, he said: “I think community building is very important and often overlooked.”
“Build a community before you even launch your business,” Walia said. “This way, you’ll have a core group of people who use your product/service. Most people spend too much time building something without testing the market first. I’m a proponent of having a lot of people signed up for your product before you even launch; this way, you’ll know whether or not what you’re building is the right thing to build.”
To learn more about LawTrades, visit their website, follow LawTrades on Twitter, Facebook and listen to Ashish Walia’s podcast, The Ashish Walia Show, on iTunes.
This post is a part of our Start-Up Series on India.com. If you know of a South Asian entrepreneur living in the Diaspora, who is ambitious and innovative, let us know! We would love to profile and connect with them for our series. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with their information.