What Is a Digital Platform and How Does It Revolutionize Legal Services?
by Guy Remond and Dave Zumpano with Special Guest Matt Squire
Guidr has the potential to be the biggest law firm in the world that doesn’t directly employ any lawyers, just as Uber is the biggest taxi company that doesn’t own any taxis.
Over the past 18 months Dave and I have been fine tuning Guidr, an online legal platform that helps consumers access legal services online or, when they want to, receive additional support from local lawyers.
To hear our full conversation on this check out The Legal Community Podcast.
We recognize that making a move towards digitalized services brings new and unfamiliar terminology so we’ve brought in Matt Squire, co-founder of Fuzzy Labs, an artificial intelligence company, to discuss digital platforms.
Software versus expertise
Matt: “There’s a very well known quote from Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Marc Andreessen, that ‘software is eating the world.’ It’s based on the idea that every single thing you can think of from the most interesting to the mundane can be automated to some extent by software. What’s really exciting about Guidr is that every law firm and every law firm client could use this platform and it isn’t replacing the expertise.”
The Guidr platform is unique. It might be your local lawyer that refers you to it in the first place if your preference is to self-serve, and the beauty of it is that you can still speak to your local lawyer if you want to. It is a hybrid service that functions through a platform.
What is a platform?
There are two main types of platform.
- One which allows its users to earn revenue by utilizing the capabilities or service provided (such as e-commerce on Amazon or YouTube)
- One where a service provided on a platform connects two sides of a market (such as buyer and seller)
Two really good examples of a platform include Uber and Airbnb. Uber is a platform that connects taxi drivers with customers. Either the Uber platform charges a fee as a percentage, or the fee for that taxi journey. Airbnb is the biggest landlord in the world that doesn’t own any buildings. People who have a property or room they want to rent out connect with customers via Airbnb. The property owner charges a fee and Airbnb takes a percentage.
Those are explained in layman’s terms. I wanted to share Matt’s definition of a platform.
Why is a platform useful?
Matt: “As a really simple example, if there is a bookstore and a website then you can search for books. You can look up books by different authors and from different time periods. A platform makes it possible for other pieces of software to talk to your bookstore and understand all of the books that you have available, and add something extra on top of that.
This is the kind of world that everyone has moved to in the last couple of decades; a world where software is talking to software. People can build their business on top of other people’s businesses such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon. All of the big players are providing service based platforms where they’re happy for other people to come in, interact with their systems and build something new on top of it because they can charge for access to their platform.
It’s about making it easy for people to come back to your platform, get something of value out of it, and give you something of value back whether that’s more data that will enrich your product, or simply paying for access to the service.
There are plenty of people out there who want to utilize these technical capabilities but don’t want to build it themselves. A platform is built in a certain way that makes it easy for other people to consume it. We’re either saying you can build your bookstore or video store on top of Amazon’s existing web hosting service, or it’s the second kind of platform where you can find a market of people who want taxi rides and people who want to drive taxis and create that business on top of a simple platform.”
What type of platform is Guidr?
Ultimately Guidr is a platform connecting buyers with sellers; people who want direct access to legal documents, or who want support from their local lawyer.
The first service Guidr is offering is wills and trusts. Before we designed and built this platform people had to go to a lawyer’s office but not everyone wanted to do that; Guidr is the solution.
Guidr does not bypass the local lawyers; they’re in partnership with us. So not only can consumers self-serve or speak directly to a lawyer, they can also choose a hybrid version and access direct support as well as complete some of the process themselves. It provides consumers with choice, it democratizes, demonetizes and digitizes legal services.
Is Guidr the new Amazon?
Both Matt and I have a technical background. I was keen to hear Dave’s perspective.
Dave: “Amazon’s platform sells products if you want to buy something physical but there is no other place that addresses accounting, financial or legal services until now. Guidr will do what Amazon did for tangible products. It will allow the consumer to have access to products but it will also allow them to have direct contact with lawyers who can provide a personalised service.
I bought something on Amazon once but I didn’t receive it. It was so complex for me to figure out how to get my credit. I didn’t know who to contact or communicate with. When you call a phone number it often goes to voicemail or is put on hold, and there’s no door you can knock on because you don’t know where the product was coming from.
Instead Guidr is connecting the two [consumers and lawyers], but there’s actually someone local [law firm] behind the software providing the service. There is a local door that you can knock on if you need help. Bringing these two worlds together is powerful.
Here we are connecting the traditional brick and mortar with technology. As a lawyer it brings me great comfort to know that Guidr is on a par with big technological outlets but with the added benefit of local support.”
Why Guidr will never replace lawyers
Dave summed it up perfectly, and what Matt shared next is at the core of Guidr.
Matt: “You look at this looming fear people have of automation taking people’s jobs but look at what a computer is good at. They’re good at scaling, mundane, repetitive tasks that go well beyond what humans could cope with. But what they’re not good at, and what people are good at, is human interaction. There’s a lot of power in a platform that emphasizes efficiently connecting humans with humans, and service providers with people who need services.”
If you would like to find out how Guidr can support your local law firm to attract new business from consumers who want a digitalized service whilst continuing to offer personalized legal expertise contact me email@example.com or Dave firstname.lastname@example.org.
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