The legal industry in India is witnessing a lot of entrepreneurial zeal off late, and one such enterprise that has been both innovative and practically successful, is EasyLaw.in. This is a web portal which acts as a bridge between professionals like lawyers, CAs and CSes, and clients looking for credible professional help. Founded in 2011 by Mr. Ridhish Talwar and Mr. Dhruv Jain, the portal has been working towards making access to professional legal and financial services easier for the clients. On the other hand, it is also helping the professionals gain wider credibility and audience. We at withstartups.com interviewed Mr. Ridhish Talwar, and gained certain interesting insights into the working of the enterprise. Here are a few excerpts:
The idea of making it easier for clients and professionals to find each other through a web portal like yours is practical and very much useful too. When did you start up and how did you run into this idea? Are you and your co-founder law graduates?
EasyLaw.in was started in 2011 as a website providing standardized legal services to clients. At that stage we were service providers to our clients. Since then, we have completely revamped the model and relaunched only about two months back as a platform, similar to a marketplace, where experts (not affiliated with EasyLaw.in) can register themselves and build their profiles to showcase their skills/specializations to clients.
Neither of the co-founders are law graduates and were entrepreneurs before coming together to found EasyLaw.in 2011. The idea originated when one of the co-founders required legal advice regarding another venture and was unable to find the right expert who specialized in the field.
We decided to change the model in 2013, as we were able to only cater to very few (about 20%) of the queries that we were receiving. This was due to the fact that end to end legal services very often require physical presence in the same city/district as the client. Further, the prevalent regulations prohibited us from providing litigation related services to our clients. Another major reason was that due to involvement of government departments in almost all legal services that we were providing, it was proving to be very difficult to standardize the services and assure clients of timely results.
There are so many other players in this field like VakilSearch, LawFarm, Lawyersclubindia, CAclubindia, etc. How do you stand out from this crowd? What’s your USP?
Q&A sites, forums and other platforms available today provide information, but one often needs to find someone in their area, to help execute the work. This is especially true of legal services as, for example, a Chartered Accountant in Mumbai will in all probability be unable to meet the needs of a Delhi based Private Limited Company or similarly, a Lawyer from Delhi will be unable to assist in the registration of a will drafted for a Bangalore based client. To address this, EasyLaw.in aims to connect clients with specialist professionals near them by using our unique algorithms that detect users/clients location and by notifying experts based on distance and matching skill sets once the client posts their requirement. Additionally, experts build their profile and skills by contributing content (posting answers, writing articles, uploading documents) and winning feedback enabled projects. This enables clients to more comprehensively judge the suitability of experts to their particular needs while ensuring the practicality of engagement.
What is your revenue model? Do you get a share in the money earned by the experts through the portal? Or you work on a commission basis?
The only revenue generating feature of our platform is feedback enabled projects (we don’t charge or receive commission from experts). We charge Rs. 99/- to a client wishing to post a feedback enabled project. To be honest, the idea till now has been only to launch a platform and to make it active; and not revenue generation as such. The reason we are charging for feedback enabled projects is that the RBI prohibits a PayPal type of escrow service for INR settlements. Due to this we were forced to let clients and experts, pay and receive payments off-platform. Now the problem that we faced was that an Expert who received a negative review could simply post new projects from a dummy account and leave shining reviews for themselves, essentially gaming the system. To deter such activity, we decided to charge for feedback enabled projects. We monitor projects to spot such undesirable activity and will continue to tweak the system as we get more data.
How exactly does your portal work?
EasyLaw.in is essentially a sort of marketplace for services. We have tweaked the traditional marketplace model by incorporating location detection and matching between Experts and Clients. So whenever a Client posts a question or a project, experts matching the location as well as the required skill are notified to provide answers or quotes.
How do you maintain the authenticity of the Clients and Experts alike? How do you deal with fake profiles?
We do not monitor the quality of solutions provided, however like most online marketplaces, we enable Experts to build their profile by adding content (by answering questions, writing articles and uploading documents), by winning feedback enabled projects to receive positive reviews from satisfied clients and by inviting other Experts to endorse them. The interactions, over time, of other registered users of the EasyLaw.in platform (including other Expert’s and Clients) with an Expert’s content builds the Expert’s public profile. Clients can then judge answers and quotes received from Experts on the basis of the strength of the Expert’s public profile. Further, they can choose to post feedback enabled projects which allows them to leave feedback on the chosen Experts public profile upon completion of the project. Since it is not easy to build a profile from scratch, this would further safeguard the Client’s interests.
Some aspects of an Expert’s public profile are:
- Skills – are the tags added by the expert while posting content. These include tags used by clients on questions that an Expert answers and on projects awarded to the Expert. The top 5 such tags are showcased while the other skills can be accessed via clicking more under skills in the expert’s public profile.
- EL Score – is a percentile score that compares each expert with all other experts on the platform and is built by receiving likes for an Expert’s content by other registered users of the EasyLaw.in platform. The likes received in the last two years contribute to the EL Score.
- Client Reviews – is a two year average of all the reviews received by an Expert on awarded feedback enabled projects. All reviews remain accessible via an Expert’s public profile, however only the ones received in the last two years are used to calculate the average client review score received.
- Expert Endorsements – these can be received by inviting known Experts to endorse you on the EasyLaw.in platform. The profiles of the Experts who have endorsed an Expert reflect the quality of such endorsements.
What are your future plans for the website?
EasyLaw.in is a platform and there are no bottlenecks as such to growth. When we receive funding, we would like to hasten the pace of development of the platform, add more features, hire a sales team to focus on expert registration and engagement, hire a PR company and start advertising to grow quickly.
One tip for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Make sure you have the optimum business structure for your needs and technically sound legal agreements. To ensure this, visit EasyLaw.in 🙂