LEGID App Is the First Marketplace for Legal Services Active in All Three Baltic States

  • 2021-08-02
  • Founder and CEO Valentin Feklistov, M.A speaks to The Baltic Times

Estonia-based LEGID App is breaking down the traditional barriers in lawyer-client relationships. The AI-powered marketplace makes legal consultations affordable for clients, and importantly, available on demand through a network of expert lawyers. 

Clients use the app to get answers to legal questions in a simple, secure and convenient way. In a few moments, the app routes their questions to the right experts. This allows any client to connect with a vetted lawyer in their language, in a number of countries, across the full spectrum of legal expertise. For lawyers, LEGID is a source of new clients and reduces the overhead of administrative tasks like collecting unpaid invoices and billing. Consultations are provided within the app’s chat, which reduces the need for emails, calls, and office visits. LEGID is currently rolling out in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland. By the end of the year, the company plans to expand to Serbia, Spain, and Finland, and later, the rest of Europe.

The Baltic Times spoke with Valentin Feklistov, the founder and CEO of LEGID.app. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

The Baltic Times: Who needs legal services on-demand, and why? 

Valentin Feklistov: The statistics are sobering. For 80% of people, legal services are completely out of reach. In terms of awareness, 2 in 3 people don’t know that a lawyer could help them overcome a challenge they face. Even if they know they need a lawyer, it’s difficult to find the right one. Clients need lawyers to have specific expertise, a certain level of experience, and even local knowledge. Finally, finding the right lawyer isn’t the finish line - being taken seriously by larger firms is a challenge when you’re a small-budget client. By making legal advice available on-demand, we’re democratizing access to legal services for all. Our main focus is on frequent travelers, international businesspeople, and expatriates.

TBT: Why are legal professionals joining the LEGID network and platform?

VF: Legal experts working alone, or small partnerships, have to compete against large firms, and have to develop their business to do so. While many lawyers get into law out of a genuine desire to help people, they struggle to get new clients. Our solution allows them to showcase their expertise to new clients at scale and across international borders. Of course, like any small-mid size business owner, lawyers want to focus on their profession, and not the administrative headache of scheduling, billing, and chasing down late payments. Focusing on individual clients and SMEs allows LEGID to give solo practitioners and smaller practices to expand their client base with a minimal amount of effort. We have also conducted surveys during our development phase that pointed to some really interesting results. A huge majority of solo law firms, a total of 76%, think they can streamline their services while working virtually, and 35% of them believe that law firms should be totally virtual in the future.

TBT: What made you realize that the market needed affordable, on-demand legal services?

VF: I’ve been practicing law for over 12 years, and working across a number of countries, I constantly ran into issues finding local legal help - I realized that the current model is far too bureaucratic, especially for smaller clients. I was frustrated by the lack of lasting relationships since firms focus on larger clients rather than smaller ones. The final issue was that so many people are unable to afford lawyers. We use AI to custom-sort our legal specialists to each client’s needs. Our model lets clients pay only what they can afford.  LEGID allows clients to find a lawyer fast, not in months.

TBT: Why is the LEGID platform structured to accept bids, auction-style, rather than just presenting price ranges?

VF: With real-time bids from lawyers on projects with a clear set of tasks, both sides are able to decide what price is comfortable and for what amount of work. By using AI to sort through the content of the question to detect the legal area, clients don’t have to worry about being well-versed in the law, and lawyers don’t have to worry about sorting through piles of unrelated questions. Again, we’re making it so this process takes minutes rather than months. Clients have access to pre-screened lawyers, and lawyers have access to pre-paid queries. It’s a win-win in our books.

TBT: How does LEGID monetize its platform?

VF: The app is a SaaS-Enabled Marketplace, meaning that we connect clients and lawyers, providing the latter with tools to make their work easier. While access for clients is free, we do charge the specialists themselves, in two ways. One, we earn commission from the lawyers on every transaction they make. Two, they can subscribe to our premium CRM. 

TBT: Who do you compete with, at home or abroad, and what edge do you have over them?

VF: While there are great apps that offer similar services in the US, like UpCounsel, LegalZoom, and LegalMatch, we plan to focus on Europe. We have a European competitor that provides ready-made legal documents, which is great for anyone who knows what they need already, but doesn’t help those that struggle to understand what they do need. Our largest competitor in Estonia employs around 30 staff lawyers. LEGID partners with lawyers that are either solo-practitioners or individual entrepreneurs. This means not only do we have a wider array of experts, we can also offer more competitive pricing.

TBT: What are your ambitions for LEGID.app?

VF: Our plan for now is to fully launch across Europe and move on to the Mideast and African markets. We want to begin by enabling solo practitioners to enter the marketplace with ease and confidence. We plan to always remain a people-centric company, and provide high-quality, affordable access to justice. While we want to be profitable, we also want to create legal education programs to both make LEGID.app more widely available, and also to allow more people to access legal help without fear. This way, people can ask for legal help without worrying about being overcharged, and then we can be the go-to legal assistance app for anyone in a position where they need help.

TBT: Why did you choose to work with BTV at this stage of your growth, and what are your plans for collaboration?

VF: We chose Baltic Tech Ventures, first of all, because we are a people-centric company and partner with those who share our vision, but also of their reputation, and their expertise in the Baltics region that could help us grow in a significant and meaningful way. Their team will be able to not only introduce us to other investors, field experts, and industry professionals, but also help us further develop our products. We are confident that we’ll scale throughout the Baltics and the rest of Europe with their help.

TBT: What does technology mean for the future of legal help?

VF: More and more legal practices are turning to technology to increase their efficiency, and the main area this affects is client services, specifically, moving client services to a virtual format. We also wanted to see how using technology changed their practice, and in studies we conducted, lawyers who started implementing more technology saw up to 58% more revenue along with 50% more cases. I think that along with these positive changes for the lawyers themselves, the clients could benefit from access to a wider array of lawyers, more accessible educational materials, and prices that mean they can afford the help they need. All of this only fuels other changes we see, like having more law graduates that are comfortable using advanced technology on a daily basis. I think that the legal landscape will be totally different in another ten years, but we’ll be there enabling it. 

Sophia Tupolev-Luz is an advisor to Baltic Tech Ventures and the managing director of Swordpen, a B2B tech communications advisory.