How Lawyer Desk Is Giving The Legal Industry A GenAI Tweak

SUMMARY

Founded in 2023, Lawyer Desk is building multiple AI-based platforms for various stakeholders of the legal space — the advocates, law students, the general public and SMEs

The bootstrapped startup has invested approximately INR 5 Cr internally to develop these platforms. Given the high costs of building GenAI models, the company is looking to raise funds

Lawyer Desk plans to make its platform global in the coming months, with talks ongoing for launch in a few Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia and Singapore

For Inc42, the last few months have been about understanding the potential of GenAI in transforming the world as we see it today. While we observed this emerging technology making disruptions across industry functions and sectors, it has yet to make any flutter in the legal space across the world. 

Given the complex nature of the industry, the rationale behind this is not quite arduous to comprehend. Interestingly, a Deloitte report blames the lack of GenAI disruption in the legal sphere on the “unstructured nature of legal data and the heavy reliance on professionals”.

However, according to PWC, although a majority of law firms acknowledge a positive impact of GenAI on their operations, only a handful have made any progress on the generative AI front.  

Bucking the trend in India is Visakhapatnam-based Lawyer Desk, which is paving the way for GenAI disruption in the Indian legal space. Founded in 2023 by A S L Ganapathi Kumar and Anushita Karunakaram, Lawyer Desk is building multiple AI-based platforms for various stakeholders of the legal space — the advocates, law students, the general public, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The startup aims to revolutionise the legal industry by leveraging AI to provide efficient legal assistance. From helping legal professionals with collated data and information related to any particular case to helping Indian citizens with ready data on any legal issue, Lawyer Desk aims to solve multiple challenges that the legal industry and its stakeholders face today in the country.

The Idea Behind Lawyer Desk

At the core of Lawyer Desk’s existence is Kumar’s vision to empower Indian citizens, who are mostly oblivious to their basic rights. 

Speaking with Inc42, Kumar, the founder and chairman of Lawyer Desk, said that he knew that he was looking at a huge-scale disruption when he learnt (after interacting with several individuals) that only a few were aware of their basic rights. He said that the plight of the masses is such that they do not know whom to approach and how to seek legal help when their basic rights are being jeopardised — either as consumers, employees, or a common citizen. 

Adding insult to injury is the infantry of unskilled lawyers, who are only putting more weight on the already rising mountain of pending or backlogged cases in the country. 

Notably, more than 4.5 Cr cases are pending in the Indian courts right now. Of these, 3 Cr+ cases are over a year old, as per National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) data.

Kumar blamed this on the outdated courses of legal studies offered by Indian universities. He added that the lack of access to the right sources further aggravates this problem.

Disappointed with the state of the Indian legal industry, Kumar and his team decided to build a single platform where common citizens could come to seek advice, understand their rights and procedures related to filing any legal case, and any further steps thereafter.

Lawyer desk factsheet

A Sneak Peek Into Lawyer Desk’s Tech Stack

The startup has already launched its first platform, Advocase, for advocates and practising lawyers. By leveraging GenAI capabilities, Advocase is designed to assist lawyers with case research and analysis, document analysis, and writing and filing cases, among others.

Next in its pipeline is Prajalok, which is being designed to provide citizens with legal information, guidance, and resources, including the tracking of any case.

Lawyer Desk is also working on a platform, CaseWork, which is being designed specifically for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“The large corporates have their in-house lawyer or legal team to handle all kinds of legal documentation, complaints, employee agreements or policies. However, many SMEs don’t have such privileges. With CaseWork, we aim to help SMEs, which cannot afford skilled lawyers, navigate the legal labyrinth,” Kumar said.

Meanwhile, the startup is working on building another platform, LawBook, which is envisioned to help law students with their studies, all while getting them acquainted with real-time case analysis.

Alongside, the startup is also working towards the gamification of legal studies. The startup plans to use immersive AI simulation and avatars to build MootCourt, a platform where law students and any law enthusiasts would be able to fight imaginary cases in a game format. 

The idea is derived from real-life moot courts, which are an essential part of legal studies that simulate a real court environment for law students to put their learnings into practice.

Lawyer Desk is planning a phase-wise launch of all its platforms, expected to be concluded by the end of 2024.

What’s The Future Course Of Action For Lawyer Desk

So far, the bootstrapped startup has invested approximately INR 5 Cr internally to develop these platforms. Given the high costs of building GenAI models, the company is looking to raise funds.

With this additional funding, the founders aim to enhance their platforms further, adding features such as voice capabilities and support for Indian languages.

Looking ahead, the startup also plans to develop its own in-house LLMs with a focus on Indian languages.

Although Lawyer Desk is currently in the pre-revenue stage, the startup will begin charging users for certain services soon. It plans to implement a usage-based pricing model, charging users based on the time spent on specific chargeable features. The proposed subscription fee is INR 2,000 per user per month or INR 24,000 annually. In exchange, users will receive time credits to access these premium features.

Lawyer Desk plans to make its platform global in the coming months, with talks ongoing for launch in a few Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia and Singapore. Though the current platforms have been built on Indian data sets, the startup is working on expanding the data as per other countries’ legal requirements.

Globally, Lawyer Desk locks horns with US-based Casetext and Italy-based Lexroom.ai. Recently, PwC announced an alliance with ContractPodAi, a leading provider of legal AI technology, to launch a new GenAI-based legal consulting service platform, Leah. 

A few Indian startups, including Nagpur-based CourtEasy.ai and Bengaluru-based SpotDraft, are also building AI-based platforms to cater to the legal industry.

Meanwhile, the Indian legal ecosystem is both excited and anxious about the advent of GenAI, with some concerned that AI might challenge human intelligence. However, Kumar views GenAI as a facilitator rather than a competitor. 

For now, it will be interesting to see how Lawyer Desk, with its GenAI playbook, is able to upscale the quality of legal work, thereby helping individuals seamlessly navigate any legal maze.  

[Edited by Shishir Parasher]

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