ALTA Board Member Profile | Dominic Woolrych, Founder and CEO, LawPath
Who is Dominic Woolrych & What is LawPath?
I am a lawyer – I call myself a recovering lawyer – like a lot of the ALTA tribe. You know, you spend some time in the legal industry and you’re very thankful for that. But whilst you’re there, you see a lot of the inefficiencies and a lot of the areas you can improve. And those lawyers with a little bit of entrepreneurial flair seem to be the ones starting companies these days that try and fix a few of those inefficiencies.
And so I started my career at Minter Ellison. I really loved that job. I then started an online training company to train Uber drivers. I got the start-up itch and then I said, can I combine start-ups and law together, and that’s how LawPath eventuated.
LawPath is an online legal platform for small businesses. So our real goal is to be a one-stop-shop for any small business, usually zero to twenty employees. If they need to sort some kind of legal issue or complete some kind of legal task, we want to be a place they go to for that. We’re five years old now – so interestingly, we’re one of the oldest legal tech companies in ALTA. I think that just goes to show you how quickly the Australian legal tech scene is growing here in Australia.
We started with automating documents which a lot of legal tech revolves around; process automation and that type of thing. Then we moved and kind of continued with the document automation, but we also run a marketplace of lawyers, where you can hire lawyers. And then we’ve also got another side of the business that helps incorporate entities – setting up companies and businesses. So we put all that together and you have the ability to complete DIY tasks online, you have the ability to hire lawyers online, and, you know, you have the ability to set up companies online. And so, that’s kind of LawPath in a nutshell.
And we’re growing pretty quickly, we have about 150,000 free users, we have about 10,000 subscribers and they pay a manual or monthly fee to access our platform. You know, I was basically giving that same explanation to a room of senior lawyers the other day, and I could see the disagreement and confusion on their faces. A common response from these lawyers is “you can’t completely automate your legal documents, you always need a lawyer.”
I actually 100% agree with them. When it comes to complex agreements, it should definitely be done by a solicitor. But there are hundreds of thousands of documents every year that either don’t need to be fully completed by a solicitor, or don’t need to be touched by a solicitor at all. An example is a simple non-disclosure agreement, the reality is most of the time a sophisticated client, or someone with a little bit of commercial acumen, can complete that document themselves.
What is ALTA? Who is ALTA for? And why should these people care?
ALTA is an association, or a group of Australian legal tech founders and participants that really want to get together and use our strength in numbers to project Australian legal tech out into the rest of the world. And you know, I’m going to blabber a little bit here, but you know one of the things around ALTA is, a lot of the time the word association can be kind of like this stuffy word where there’s mainly procedures and boring stuff going on, but you know it couldn’t be further from the truth with ALTA.
I mean, really what it is, is just a network of people that you can lean on and chat to and get support from if you’re in a legal tech business or a New Law business, because you’ve got to remember we’re still only two percent of the legal industry. We’re still such a small percentage, but we’re growing really quickly, and so it’s a network that you can be amongst and use to get your business up and running.
Who’s it for? It’s for Australian based businesses, you know, senior managers, founders, people in the business that want a support network, and want to run new ideas, and you know, not feel like a total idiot the whole time. And you know, I’ve found a lot of friends within ALTA that I now speak to a lot, and that’s really, really useful.
Why should people care? I think you’ve got so much going on in your life, especially starting a new business in a new industry. A lot of the time it’s tough – you’re always going to run into tough times – and there’s no substitute for there being a network that you can quickly reach out to on slack or go meet up with and just quickly chat about these issues. And so, you should definitely care – because that’s exactly what that support network is there for.
What is the Australian LegalTech industry going to look like in 2030?
Well, hopefully I’m lying on a beach somewhere having sold LawPath for millions of dollars… No, I’m really not sure. I do know I’ll definitely still be involved in the legal space; we are really just at the beginning of a huge boom in terms of a shift in legal, legal technology, New Law, you know, whatever name you want to call it. I think we’re right at the beginning.
Just as we’ve seen in other industries, we’re starting to see the small disruptors starting to come through in Law. The small start-ups are coming in and slowly eating away at some of the bigger incumbents. But the really great things that I’m starting to see in the industry is the big incumbents are starting to notice. And so, this is where you’re seeing law firms starting their own start-ups. They’re either buying them or starting them themselves, especially around the kind of low-cost models.
And the other thing that I think is the next stage is we’re starting to see the big content providers you know, acquire or start their own start-ups. So you’ve got the Thomson Reuters’ and the LexisNexis, and they just said this is, this is the way Law’s going. We’ve got the distribution channels, now we need the tech, and so you know especially over in the States, we’ve seen LexisNexis purchase Lex Machina, Ravel, you know they’re just buying up all this legal tech and that’s a great sign for the industry I think.
So where are we going to be in 2030? I think we will see, as I mentioned legal tech is at about two percent of global legal tech spend, I think that’ll be up at around 10 percent. I think the way that lawyers will have worked, we’re going to see law firms specialise or commoditise, so you can’t be stuck in the middle. So lawyers will go up and specialise in complex areas, and then tech will do all the commoditisation.
Law firms – I think the law firm model will still be around, you know a lot of people say, oh the partnership model doesn’t allow for, you know, the new business models to come through, the partnership model doesn’t work. But the reality is it’s been around for 200 years, it’s not going anywhere, but I think what we’ll start seeing is just the way that partners work. The way that the model works it will kind of work a little bit differently. I think you know one of the big things that the partnership model needs to overcome is this idea that they need to invest, you know they need the capital to invest in this tech.
Traditionally you know that capital would go out to the partners every year, so you got no money on the balance sheet to actually double down and invest in, in this tech that needs to be built. But we’re starting to see that with some of the larger firms so for me, super exciting where this is going.
I think the most exciting space is actually junior lawyers – they have this chance to come through and totally recreate what a lawyer is. You know, I’d say they’re not going to be called junior lawyers anymore, they’re going to be called legal analysts because their job will be to actually work with the software and then relay that to the client. Rather than just sitting there and doing all the drafting themselves. It really gives junior lawyers this opportunity to recraft what Law really looks like.
So I’m excited. Come back and have a chat with me in 2030 and we’ll see if all that was correct or not!