According to research released by a government-backed innovation initiative, small businesses face unmet legal needs, creating a huge opportunity for providers of lawtech services. Several small and medium-sized enterprises don't know when or whether to hire lawyers, and some don't recognize when they have a legal issue, according to a study conducted by LawtechUK and the Legal Services Board.
It was concluded that SMEs were frustrated by the time and cost involved with resolving legal issues. Businesses are seeking solutions that are cost-effective, do not require excessive time expenditure, and provide assurance. It was found that many SME's are not clear on whether or not to involve lawyers in certain instances.
The study interviewed 40 small and medium-sized companies across different sectors, including ten that had previously used lawtech. A majority of SMEs saw lawtech as a valuable tool for locating legal service providers on the market and preparing legal documents.
Small businesses are already identified as an opportunity by LawtechUK, which has received government funding. The report published earlier this year concluded that lawtech products and services could save UK SMEs over £8.5bn each year.
Currently, according to the Legal Services Board, which touts technology as a critical element of its mission to reshape legal services, only a quarter of small businesses get professional help with legal issues, while half go it alone. Among small business owners, only one in 10 considers lawyers to be cost-effective.
Those behind the research believe that lawtech could provide small businesses with a convenient, affordable, timely and reassuring source of legal support. The debate is often framed in terms of technology replacing existing services, but it should instead be considered that lawtech can provide new opportunities for legal service providers to meet the unmet needs of SMEs and make people's lives easier.