Founder Shrijay is Bridging Legal Tech Gaps with a Human Touch

LegalWiz - Shrijay
LegalWiz - Shrijay

India is a nation pulsating with entrepreneurial fervor and has witnessed undulating tides of marketplace evolution thanks to digitization. In the first wave, the retail industry was digitized by e-commerce platforms like Flipkart, Myntra, Snapdeal, etc. The second wave saw the rise of D2C platforms from popular brands, offering a direct conduit between producers and consumers. As the digital landscape matured, a third wave ushered in the era of online services for every imaginable consumer need – from car rentals to housekeeping.

Now, we stand on the cusp of a fourth wave. India is on the brink of a paradigm shift where professional services are getting digitized, and the user adoption curve is hitting critical mass. In this confluence of forces shaping the new narrative in the professional services landscape in India, is emerging as a trailblazer within the legal tech niche. was founded with one goal- to combine technology, legal services and user experience into a cutting-edge platform that is accessible to all businesses. In an exclusive interview with Shrijay Sheth, the founder of LegalWiz, we explore how they are not merely riding the waves of digitization but orchestrating a symphony that could redefine India’s professional services landscape.

Shrijay talks about his startup journey, how LegalWiz provides expert guidance in legal and regulatory matters for SMEs and startups, what startups should know about legal services, and how the delivery of digital professional services must be tailored to the mindset of Indian consumers.

Addressing Challenges in Indian Legal Services Sector

Before laying the foundations of LegalWiz in 2015, Shrijay spent seven years working with top global e-commerce brands in Silicon Valley. His four-year stint at Legal Zoom, a US-based global leader in the legal tech arena, opened his eyes to how technology in the legal domain can help businesses stay compliant, and he wanted to replicate it in India.

Shrijay says, "Almost 90% of the challenges faced by startups, small businesses, and MSMEs are not with complex law. It is solely with compliances that can be standardized to a large extent. There is a huge opportunity to scale up and solve 90% of how small businesses consume or communicate with law and law fraternity. We are building LegalWiz with a strong technology backbone that enables us to manage all this at scale."

During his pursuit to digitize legal services in India, help businesses deal with legal issues, and stay compliant with local and national regulations, Shrijay identified that the legal services industry has three unique challenges.
  1. Opaque Terrain of Legal Services: India’s traditional legal services realm grapples with a perceived lack of transparency in crucial aspects such as pricing structures, service delivery dynamics, and overall service quality.

  2. Lack of Accessibility: Small businesses find themselves grappling with a dearth of immediate access to legal experts and regulatory consultants, impeding their ability to navigate the complex legal landscape efficiently.

  3. Impractical Legal Support Services: Confronted with budgetary constraints, startups and small businesses often face the impracticality of procuring full-scale legal services. Instead, they require bespoke services to meet their specific and evolving legal needs.

"In India, the accessibility and transparency of legal services are perceived to be very complex. New-age businesses appreciate transparency and need more accessibility to lawyers and regulatory experts. They don't want to wait in the queue for their appointment. They want things to be done faster. Now is the time when technology is bringing a lot of disruption into how new-age lawyers and law firms are going to tackle things," says Shrijay.

With a firm understanding of the problems plaguing legal services in India, Shrijay started LegalWiz to find a tech solution to the problems in accessibility, transparency, and pricing in the legal services industry. The platform has 45+ professionals servicing 7000+ customers across India. Their core target market is SMBs and startups, especially early adopters of technology, who don’t mind using tech to manage their day-to-day compliances.

"Our target customers are businesses who don't need a full-time accountant, chartered accountant, or a company secretary. But that does not mean that they don't need these services. So, rather than having somebody in-house, we come at a fractional cost to take care of the entire compliance, legal, and registration-related services journey for these businesses. We manage everything from company registration to taxation, government registrations, licenses, GST, legal document drafting, and intellectual property management."

Building for India - Technology with a Human Touch

Shrijay says that when you are building a tech platform for Indian users, you must be wary of the established status quo in consumer mindsets. A completely automated tech-based service model that works in the US may not work here unless tailored to Indian users.

Shrijay explains with an example, “When LegalWiz launched, our technology was ahead of its time. A user could simply answer questions, subscribe to a legal service, and complete the entire transaction online without human intervention. But, we did not see even 1% of our overall users completing that journey online. But, companies in the similar domain in the US had a much higher success ratio.”

The reason for this stark difference between Indian users and US users in the completion rate of automated forms is that Indian users expect a lot of hand-holding, and it is not because of a lack of knowledge but a preference for a human touch.

"Indians tend to expect and get human intervention and help. It is not a luxury of the market; it is a market norm. Technology does not solve all of that. It is a mental state. The greatest learning we have ever had is not to automate and standardize things through technologies to the extent that people lose the value of personalization and think that we have lost the human touch. India does not appreciate it."

From the user’s perspective, procuring legal services is an intent-based decision that requires a unique strategy. So, Shrijay is envisioning LegalWiz as a platform where technology’s power meets personalization by offering human interventions to build trust. LegalWiz employs a dedicated account manager or business advisor concept, ensuring clients have a single point of contact for multiple services.

"In India, business is driven by establishing relationships with users which does not happened so much so in Western countries. It is much easier in the Indian context to build a relationship with your user if a single person like a dedicated account manager handles all of a user's accounts. In the West, people expect the system to be your best friend. In India, people expect people to be your best friend. So, it is a cultural nuance, that we have had to adapt to."

In a market saturated with standardized services, Shrijay stresses the importance of maintaining a balance between technology-driven efficiency and the human touch. This approach addresses the need for personalization, transparency, and accessibility, creating a more favorable client experience in the Indian context.

Spotting Trends in Professional Services Landscape

Shrijay says there are trend waves that you must look out for in the West, especially in the US today, which will definitely reach India. He anticipates the digitization of professional services as the next big, inevitable trend that will reach India.

"The US always has been the early adopter. Amazon started in the US 15 years ago, and after a few years, it became a brand by itself, and users made a conscious choice to buy from Amazon. We saw this trend repeating in India with Flipkart. The second trend was big global brands like Nike taking the D2C route and selling from their own websites, and smaller brands followed suit. This trend has also come to India."

Shrijay says that India is in the midst of a third trend where people are increasingly consuming services offered online.

"At the tail end of this trend, we will see professional services in finance, medical, and legal domains largely being offered online. This is inevitable," says Shrijay.

He also anticipates that all process-oriented legal services jobs will be automated very soon. Obviously, Shrijay sees a massive role for AI integration in the legal services domain.

"When you talk about legal services or any professional domain, there are two types of jobs. One involves a lot of wisdom, and the other involves many processes. Everything that is process-oriented, which does not need a lot of human wisdom and has no reliance on an emotional quotient, will get automated.”

LegalWiz has already started tinkering with GenAI in its platform and contract drafting is one of the key areas. Shrijay says AI will make it easier and cheaper for people to access and consume law.

"AI-generated contracts can easily be tweaked into a consumable document. AI is permeating contract vetting, case research across the courts, managing practices on cloud-based systems, etc. Technology has started invading how these practices were run conventionally. With the assistance of technology it will become cheaper and more accessible for people to consume law. It is only a matter of time before people start consuming technology to stay compliant. There are interesting times ahead of us."

Legal Hygiene for Startups

We know that 9 out of 10 startups fail, and one of the core reasons for failure is not having a good legal hygiene system in place. As we ended our conversation with Shrijay, he shared wisdom on the four cardinal pillars that startup founders could lean on to stay on the right side of legality and regulatory compliance.

1. Start It Right

Shrijay elucidates the criticality of commencing the entrepreneurial voyage with a judiciously chosen business structure. In his words, “Company kulana” might be a common refrain, but it belies the nuanced considerations imperative for startups. Choosing between an LLP, private limited company, or proprietorship requires thoughtful evaluation, considering each structure’s unique attributes and aligning them with the business’s long-term vision.

Shrijay articulates, "Picking the right structure is crucial. It stays with you for a long, long period of time. You don't want to be constrained with how you are formatted."

2. Manage It Right

Managing a startup extends beyond the ideational realm into the procedural domain of compliances and registrations. Shrijay reinforces the need for meticulous management, ensuring that startups not only survive but thrive within the contours of legal frameworks. This stage marks the establishment of a solid foundation upon which the startup’s journey rests.

3. Protect It Right

The concept of protection in startups embraces a dual nature – safeguarding intellectual property and fortifying interests through agreements. While IP protection involving trademarks, patents, and copyrights is widely acknowledged, Shrijay highlights the oft-neglected significance of legal documents between stakeholders. Documents like the cofounders’ agreements, prevent conflicts and fosters clarity.

"I have seen at least 50% of the startup founders having issues with other cofounders and get bitter with time. Protecting it right is very important, having the right legal documents in place. It is about putting things in clarity," underscores Shrijay.

4. Financial Visibility

Shrijay concludes the quartet of legal hygiene by emphasizing the paramount importance of maintaining financial visibility. Real-time accounting, rather than a compliance-driven year-end activity, emerges as a linchpin for startups’ fiscal health. Shrijay contends that transparent financial narratives, backed by robust numbers, forestall the unfortunate fate of startups drying out of funds.

"The biggest pain point of startups is they lose financial and fiscal visibility. That is why they dry out of funds and eventually shut shops, because everything looks great when it is a story that is not told by numbers," warns Shrijay.

In our illuminating discourse, Shrijay Sheth crafts a narrative that transcends the conventional view of legalities as burdensome shackles. Instead, he envisions LegalWiz as a space where legal hygiene is a strategic imperative, a dynamic force propelling startups toward sustained success in the challenging entrepreneurial landscape.

As startups grapple with the intricacies of entrepreneurship, Shrijay’s insights provide not only a compass but also a lantern, guiding them through the legal maze with clarity and purpose.

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