Last updated on March 6th, 2016 at 06:46 pm
The amount of paperwork is mind boggling. A common complaint that budding entrepreneurs have in North America and Europe is the endless bureaucratic red tape when it comes to starting a business. It’s talked about at business schools, it’s debated on in political discussions and it’s a common segment on any of the business networks.
In many Asian countries, it can take as little as 24 hours to start a business. But in a country like France that number soars dramatically. France is known to make the lives of entrepreneurs extra difficult, especially from the point of view of law.
From paperwork to regulations, from taxes to compliance, startups have a lot of legal mumbo jumbo to figure out, which, of course, takes time away from its innovation, changing the marketplace for the better and satisfying the consumer. Entrepreneurs detest red tape.
When there’s something as troublesome as filling out 100 intricate forms there’s also an opportunity.
One of the biggest trends in France right now is startups working with other startups to fathom the legal process, corporate laws and complicated government forms (white, blue and pink papers).
TechCrunch recently alluded to Guacamol (legal paperwork), Fred De La Compta (accounting) and PayFit (payroll) as examples of startups seeing a tremendous opportunity to not only assist their fellow startups but to also earn a lucrative living. One specific niche is legal tech.
Law firms have been criticized for years about how they doen’t actually solve problems but rather just perpetuate them. It’s up to the entrepreneurs to spice things up. That’s exactly what’s happening. Legal tech startups have been booming for a few years now and have started to disrupt the legal industry, which conventional lawyers may not appreciate at all.
How does legal tech work? It’s akin to the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement.
At first, legal tech startups utilized tech and software to assist law firms in automating mundane tasks, such as accounting or storing documents. They aided law firms to be more efficient, while maximizing billable hours without worrying about tedious administration and accounting duties.
Today, legal tech startups have provided clients with immediate access to online software to avoid the lawyers, operate in marketplaces and automate tasks. This has led to competition, and, of course, lower prices. Indeed, this is the very definition of industry and market disruption.
With French citizens embracing the entrepreneurial spirit, simplification has become a necessity.
Here is what the tech blog concludes:
“As entrepreneurship is becoming a way of life in France, there is a growing need for the simplification of processes that remain labyrinthine. France is well-positioned with these new companies whose ambition is to address an international market at once, make it easier for foreign startups in France and for all companies in other legal environments in Europe.”
The seeds of the legal tech industry may have just been planted in France, but the history of this niche can be found in the United States and other European markets, even though it’s quite brief. As government only gets bigger and the legal industry refrains from entering the 21st century, legal tech startups may be a boon for small businesses. Process-based tools may be the bane to law firms’ existence.
AbovetheLaw.com asked the question in 2014: “If Software is Eating the World, Is Law Next?” The answer may be a resounding yes, but what will seasoned law professionals have to say about that? If taxicabs are creating a firestorm because Uber is changing their industry then just imagine what lawyers are capable of. It’s going to be a very interesting few years for both sides.
Is this the end of the lawyer-client interaction? Not entirely, but at least it minimizes it.