This week we caught up with Sam Flynn co-founder of Josef Legal to talk legal innovation, law tech and how his new legal chatbot builder, Josef, is set to increase access to the law for the general community.
What is Josef and how does it work?
“Josef is a digital lawyer backed by a chatbot builder.
On our no-coding-required platform, legal organisations can build and launch their own chatbots without the need for expensive developers. These chatbots can help people resolve a legal problem, including by preparing a personalised document for them (such as a letter or agreement). Because all of these interactions are automated, it allows legal organisations to provide their services at scale.”
How did the idea for the platform first come about?
“Josef was borne out of a meeting in late 2016 with the heads of the major community legal centres in Australia. We were invited to help figure out how technology could be used to deal with access to justice issues.
The answer that we arrived at was a legal chatbot that could provide legal information and assistance to help people resolve their own legal problems.
That soon evolved into a chatbot builder which any legal organisation could use to build their own bot.”
What problem has Josef been developed to help solve?
“Josef was developed to bridge the access to justice gap.
This problem is demonstrated by the fact that of the 8.5 million Australians who face a legal problem every year, only 4 million seek any kind of legal assistance. The problem is worse in the US and the UK, where we are also operating.
For our business clients (such as law firms), this also represents an enormous latent market and an extraordinary opportunity which can be captured by using Josef to automate and scale services, streamline their organisations and connect with clients.”
What is Josef’s potential utility for community legal centres and law firms?
“Josef’s utility is to allow legal organisations to automate and scale legal services, streamline their organisations and connect with potential and current clients.
For community legal centres, this allows them to help as many people as possible, particularly in the face of a disconnect between increasing demand and decreasing funding. For law firms, this allows them to help more people while also letting them access a huge, unaddressed market, which in the US alone is valued at USD$50B.”
How can members of the public use your technology to find legal answers and who ensures the accuracy of legal information supplied?
“The content of the chatbots is developed by the community legal centres and law firms that build them. In this way, Josef brings expert legal knowledge to end users.
At the moment, all chatbots will be launched by the community legal centre or law firm, such as onto their website.
The first chatbot that has been launched on Josef is Health Complaints Assist.
This is a free chatbot which helps users make a complaint about health services, including by automatically drafting a letter for them! This chatbot is improving health services, one experience at a time, and could help thousands of people each year.”
What sort of reception has Josef received among the legal industry? Has the response surprised you?
“We have had an extraordinary response from the legal industry.
In a few short months, we have signed up clients across Australia, the US and the UK, from CLCs to a large fintech company in New York.
Some people have found this surprising, because the legal industry is renowned as a conservative industry. However, we think it makes perfect sense given the ongoing conversation about the need for the legal industry to technologise and modernise and the fact that it doesn’t make sense that so many people are not getting the legal help they need.
We have the legal expertise, and now we have the technology, so why wouldn’t we help them?”
What are a few long-term goals that you would like to achieve?
“In the long-term, we want to change the way that legal services are provided to ensure that people get help whenever and wherever they need it. We want to get to the stage where people who have a legal problem seek legal assistance, just like people who have a health problem see a doctor.”