Upwards Trajectory – An interview with Lauren and Rebecca from Rocket Lawyer UK
Marc May speaks with Lauren Delin and Rebecca Reed of Rocket Lawyer UK on their roles, how they are disrupting the legal market, equivalent means and the lawyer of the future.
MM: Would you like to explain a bit your roles and what you do on a day to day basis?
LD: I’m Lauren Delin and I’m a Senior Paralegal working for Rocket Lawyer UK. I started in an editorial role, responsible for creating and looking after the legal health of Rocket Lawyer’s online contracts. This included drafting new legal contracts and liaising with the tech team to make sure customers were getting the best experience. I decided I wanted to take on more in-house work which Mark Edwards (Senior VP EMEA) fully supported. Now I do a lot of legal work internally for Rocket Lawyer and liaise with people in both Europe and the US. I also take part in a projects relating to data protection and advances in technology.
RR: I’m Rebecca Reed, Rocket Lawyer UK’s Legal Operations Manager. I started under Lauren as a paralegal carrying out GDPR related work and assisting with Rocket Lawyer’s Ask a lawyer service. In my current role I’ve been further developing the ‘Ask the lawyer’ functionality on our site. I have a strong interest in developing our services to make them more user-friendly.
MM: How would you say Rocket Lawyer is different to the traditional law firm? What makes it special?
LD: The biggest difference is that we are not actually a law firm, we are a legal technology company. Our specialism is providing legal services to small to medium sized businesses, as well as providing legal services to individuals.
RR: The majority of the businesses we assist consist of around 5 – 10 people. We believe these businesses are currently underserved by the legal market.
LD: As well as small businesses, we also help individuals seeking legal services (wills, property, divorce advice, etc). Rocket Lawyer aims to make the law affordable and simple for everyone, by offering fixed price legal services, customisable online legal documents and discounted lawyer fees. Rocket Lawyer gives small businesses and consumers the opportunity to access legal services that are easy and simple to use in a market where these customers are being underserved or priced out. That’s how we differentiate ourselves from the traditional law firm.
RR: We stay affordable by unbundling the legal services we provide. Customers themselves are able to visit our website and create their own legal documents by answering simple questions. If a customer needs something added to a legal document they can instruct one of lawyers from our On Call network. Customers can instruct one of the lawyers in our network to finish or refine the draft legal document for as little as £200.
MM: How do people pay for Rocket Lawyer?
RR: Rocket Lawyer operates on a freemium model, similar to Netflix and Amazon. Customers get a free 7 day trial and then after that it’s a £25 a month.
MM: I can see how that would be good for new entrants to legal services, who can dip in and access legal services but do not need to pay big firm rates.
RR: When Rocket Lawyer was just starting to get set up in the UK, Mark approached a firm to get a precedent employment contract. That employment contract cost £2,000(!). Our customers can now create employment contracts for free in the Trial.
MM: Would you say you were a disruptive force within the legal sector?
Together: We love being that.
LD: In comparison with our competitors, I’d say we do leverage technology and are proactive in both providing access to legal services, and giving our customers access to lawyers that are affordable. We are very proud of being disruptive.
MM: So you mentioned you’re not a law firm previously. How do your customers instruct lawyers?
RR: We have a combination of both lawyers employed by Rocket Lawyer and a network of On Call lawyers. These On Call lawyers range from boutique firms to sole practitioners. All of our lawyers, however they are structured, are able to deal with customers via video conferencing or phone, which our customers find useful. We also have relationships with some medium size firms who have set up a call centre to handle questions from customers. Our customers can instruct these lawyers through the Ask the lawyer service on our site.
MM: What legal tech-related projects are you currently working on?
RR: Our Ask the lawyer service. There is a lot I can do with Ask the lawyer to make it better for Rocket Lawyer, the clients and lawyers. This includes making connections easier, by seeking out and reviewing the latest technology. I’ve got plans to use Google Hangouts for interactions and Google Docs for real time editing. Online invoicing, signatures and ID checks will all be done electronically. In this day and age it shouldn’t be done any other way.
MM: I think that is lot more forward thinking than a lot of firms!
MM: How would you say the legal market is in the UK at the moment?
LD: In my opinion I think there is still this emphasis on traditionalism. The legal profession needs to understand that there will be new players disrupting the market changing and shaking things up, like Rocket Lawyer. The market needs to embrace that rather than being fearful. This is absolutely key. The legal profession needs to leverage technology, instead of relying on traditional approaches.
RR: The market will dictate the how legal services will be delivered. There will always be a place for traditionalists. Multinational corporations aren’t going to come to Rocket Lawyer. We aren’t going to service them. Whereas the small businesses, mums and dads, your family members, yourself, will. In terms of diversity in the profession, the SRA are changing the rules and we are really excited about the lawyer exam (SQE).
MM: Speaking of qualification, Lauren I know that you are hoping to qualify through the Equivalent Means route. Is that supported by Rocket Lawyer?
LD: We are not a law firm so Rocket Lawyer isn’t able to provide training contracts so Equivalent Means is the only way for me to qualify (until the SQE comes in). I’m hoping to do the same thing as you when you qualified through this route and help others make it too.
MM: That’s good to hear. I think there will be plenty of people out there working in-house that would be keen to hear your story. How are you finding the equivalent means route so far?
LD: It’s a lot of work! I’m sure you know better than anyone how much time and energy does go into it and you need to be speaking to the SRA all the time to seek clarification on what they mean by particular outcomes and how to fulfil them. However, I know that by the time I get to the end of it and qualify I’ll definitely be able to show my tenacity and determination!
MM: Last but not least what do you both consider to be the lawyer of the future?
LD: Someone that embraces and is passionate about technology and who uses it to its full advantage. I think now the market is embracing those lawyers that are savvy and who can code. There are a lot of courses out there that for trainee lawyers wishing to get involved in the tech sphere, including coding courses. When we joined Rocket Lawyer we had to learn how to write in HTML. I believe the future lawyer will also need to embrace the liberalisation of legal services.
RR: The future lawyer has to be passionate about their clients. Without clients you can’t lawyer.
MM: Thanks both for taking the time to come and talk to me. I’m sure our readers will be very interested to know how Rocket Lawyer is disrupting the market. Traditional firms beware!