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This Malaysian Start-up Wants to Help You Find the Right Lawyer

CanLaw, a legal tech start-up based out of Malaysia, wants to improve the process of lawyer discovery

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 09 Nov 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

If you need a lawyer in Southeast Asia, chances are you’ll look for one on Google. But once the search results are returned to you, how do you decide which of these lawyers are reputable and can address your particular legal need?

CanLaw, a legal tech start-up based out of Malaysia, wants to improve the process of lawyer discovery.

“We want to remove the barrier between the general public and the perceived intimidating process of lawyer discovery. With CanLaw’s lawyer discovery platform, users are able to send in their legal issues, get and compare up to five legal fee quotes and profiles, with a few clicks on our platform, from wherever they are,” says Pang Jo Fan, the head of marketing and communications at CanLaw.

CanLaw’s target audiences are individuals, start-ups, and small and medium-sized enterprises, most of which are searching for legal services online. The company acquires users through social media and search engine marketing.

“On the other side of the market, we are focusing much of our attention to small boutique law firms. These are the law firms with five lawyers or less, and are looking for the means to grow their online presence,” Fan says. He adds their methods for lawyer acquisition are more conventional, relying on face-to-face meetings and collaborations with professional organizations, such as Syariah Lawyers Association of Malaysia (PGSM).

Acquiring lawyers is not easy. Given that many other legal tech start-ups want to compete directly with lawyers, not everyone may be initially receptive to their overtures. The company had to be very clear in explaining their mission as an organization, contrasting what they want to do with other legal-tech start-ups.

“CanLaw, on the other hand, seeks only to help lawyers improve their services. Our lawyer discovery platform is dedicated to reducing friction in the lawyer discovery process and this is something we are working on towards educating lawyers with this,” he says.

According to Fan, CanLaw has gotten positive feedback from both sides of the marketplace. “It’s always very encouraging to receive calls from users telling us that they have found the perfect lawyer and it is only made possible through the platform. We also love hearing from the lawyers whose services are made more accessible to the public because of our platform,” he says.

The biggest challenge facing CanLaw is one that all legal tech start-ups face: establishing a pro-technology regulatory framework. Fan says the company has been very active in engaging regulators of the legal industry.

“In fact, we have recently met up with the Legal Profession Committee of the Bar Council upon their invitation to clarify on certain questions that they have with regards to our (civil) lawyer discovery platform and monetization model,” Fan shares.

Though the regulatory framework is still being ironed out, Fan believes there is no better time to go into legal tech in Southeast Asia than now. Other industries, such as finance, transport, and even government, are going digital so it’s only a matter of time before the legal industry needs to do so as well.

“Hence, it is important for digitally-native tech entrepreneurs to start moving the needle into the legal industry and be the pioneers in shaping the legal tech ecosystem in the region. With governments and regulators starting to explore the possibilities of developing digital roadmaps for the legal industry, there’s never been a better time to get into legal tech than now,” he says.

Update as of July 2, 2018:
According to CanLaw officials, as of November 2017, the CanLaw lawyer-discover platform is no longer in service as part of the company's agreement with regulators.

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