Catalysing digitalisation in the legal sector – eAvokat
EU4TECH PoC – prototyping success stories!
Over the last 18 months the EU Funded EU4TECH PoC project has committed nearly 100 kEURO in prototyping actions, spread across 21 projects. In this final series of news articles we profile some of the projects that have successfully proved the concept and moved closer to market.
Catalysing digitalisation in the legal sector – eAvokat
Innovation often comes from transdisciplinary cooperation and software development is one of the most important enabling technologies, changing work flows and communication structures in all sectors. One potential market for digitisation identified by local innovators is the provision of targeted software and services for attorneys to improve communication with their clients, both nationally and internationally.
Atdhe Lila, a lawyer by training with a Masters from the Netherlands, has been supported by EU4TECH PoC to develop a software application called “eAvokat“. His company Digilegals LLC is a consultancy specialised in technology law, based in Prishtina with an eye on the international market.
Together with his co-founder, the software engineer Taulant Ukmata and their first team members, he designed a tool which allows direct consultations with lawyers, generating and managing of legal documents such as employment contracts or shareholder agreements and other legal workflows. He also integrated modules to directly register a company / NGO or intellectual property. “eAvokat” will provide both a subscription service for lawyers and their clients but also the possibility to work just on one specific document or get a targeted consultation. Once deployed, it will cover the Kosovar and Albanian markets but in a next step, outsourcing of legal consultancy will be explored using competitive advantages of the region offering services to international clients.
“Attorney’s archive” is another EU4TECH supported digitisation prototyping initative from the region. It is led by Lejla Vardo, a software engineering student at the University of Zenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The online service, which she developed together with her colleagues Harun Salkica, graduate of the Faculty of Law and Samir Lemeš, professor at the University of Zenica, will enable attorneys to store and manage information about cases and clients combined with an easily accessible database for relevant laws and templates. Following the first successful MPV, funded through EU4TECH PoC they plan to include a tariff calculator, to-do lists, communication options as well as secure document exchange. These services are being developed in a co-design process in communication with legal experts as well as a first user group of attorneys. Focusing on the legal system in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the team targets the local market. In order to develop the MVP, Lejla used the EU funding to hire software engineers and is currently testing the App.
The support provided by the European Union through the EU4TECH PoC project came at a crucial time for both projects. Thanks to the support, both financially and with know-how, their ideas are becoming reality. The two teams were able to realise a minimum viable product (MVP) based on their ideas. Their functional prototypes have been co-developed with local commercial enterprises, providing all the main features and ready to be further tested and improved. Even as the COVID-19 crisis has slowed some activities and access to local test users has not been easy, both have succeeded to establish groups of “early adopters” and develop software tailored to the needs of their future clients.
Beyond the financial support for prototyping, EU4TECH PoC has also supported both teams with specialised technical assistance to help them explore the market and address early challenges of establish the idea as a commercial business.
As Atdhe explains, “there are more than 5000 attorney offices, mostly small, not using software and with a huge potential to digitalise. And there are also international law-firms are interested in the local expertise!” With EU4TECH mentoring, professional market research, support by local and international chambers of commerce and the local incubator who suggested further partnerships, “eAvokat“ became part of a vibrant innovation ecosystem. The team shares enthusiasm and common understanding with other young co-operators who provide feedback and push product development.
In Bosnia, the team around Lejla is also “constantly talking to potential clients about their needs and wishes”. However, one of her challenges was also to reach an agreement with the university so that the team could secure the rights to commercialise the idea.. EU4TECH offered access to professional legal support to help the team explore options to expiate the technology independently of the university…
Similarly, Atdhe also highlights the trainings received which helped the team to learn, grow and adjust and the concrete and targeted consultancy and expertise, supporting e.g. design and vision building. He describes these as “hands on services with actual outputs”. EU4TECH also helped to better understand the international start-up scene and he is getting ready to present his idea on the international level.
In both projects, further investments are now needed. Lejla will present the MVP at meetings with lawyers exploring if they are interested to pay some further development to get the product ready for them as first customers or to invest in the company which she is currently establishing.
Atdhe has applied for some additional funding as “finding serious investors and applying for VC firms or accelerators is the most important next step”. Based on the MVP and the positive feedback so far, as well as first clients in the pipeline, he is optimistic: “Several years of accelerated growth are possible with adequate support.”
These two projects showcase how the support of the European Union and international experts in combination with local involvement can create a vibrant ecosystem around highly impressive young entrepreneurs and innovators, such as Atdhe and Lejla, who are now eager to face the next challenges inherent in bringing their services to the market!