Who can benefit from this study?
Civic Tech initiatives
Organisation responsible for case study:
LawPadi: A Nigerian online platform for legal services
Main Project Location: Lagos
Project country/countries: Nigeria
Project dates: 2015 –
Last updated: 23 March 2022
Brief overview of the Case Study
LawPadi is an online platform that educates Nigerians about their rights and duties by providing clear and easy to understand information about the law and how it affects their daily lives. The platform started as an online legal advice system to provide information and resources to people in Nigeria. It now provides virtual assistance on legal issues through a chatbot. Today LawPadi has 5 chatbots that provide direct assistance to hundreds of thousands of Nigerians. LawPadi’s vision is to incorporate cutting-edge technology solutions that are scalable to everyday legal issues and therefore increase access to justice.
The challenge or problem
“We believe the way the legal system in Nigeria is set up needs to change. There is a severe imbalance against the common person with respect to access to justice and knowledge of rights. We launched LawPadi to attempt to move the scales of justice in favour of the people who need it - the regular man or woman on the street, the fledgeling startup, or even just the person trying to educate themselves on their rights,” founder Babatunde Ibidapo-Obe said.
The solution that was implemented
LawPadi provides digital tools that help individuals get access to justice and provide access to vetted qualified lawyers who provided quality legal support at affordable fees. The platform also has a premium member network for entrepreneurs and business owners who need support to navigate their daily legal issues.
LawPadi also uses chatbots to answer common queries. The implementation of chatbots came about a realisation by Babatunde that one on one consultations with lawyers was not proving viable from a business perspective but could be affordable to use chatbots to answer common queries.
“We realized that there were specific legal verticals that would be amenable to automated solutions. So, on the first of July in 2016, we launched our first chatbot. We called it Ada,” he explains. The full- list of chatbots are:
ADA – The Automated Divorce Advisor
BINTA – The Business in Nigeria Technology Advisor
LATIFA – The Land and Tenant Information Advisor
SADE – Small Claim and Debt Recovery Expert
Elma – Employment and Labour Matters Advisor
What technology was used?Chatbot
What results were achieved?
In 2015, Babatunde founded LawPadi. A Nigerian lawyer by training, he often had friends and acquaintances asking him legal questions and seeking legal advice. Babatunde briefly stayed in the UK and while there he learned about services like LegalZoom, a service that provided affordable, online legal services to people seeking to resolve common issues. With this experience, Babatunde was convinced that a similar platform would be a breakthrough for Nigerians.
So Babatunde knew that with this new business venture--he would have to do things differently. In July 2015 he launched a very simple website, LawPadi, to provide basic legal information to Nigerians. “People would come on the website and just ask questions and myself or another member of the team would come on the website and respond within 48 hours,” he explains, “We were building up the content around the questions people asked.” It was a simple site hosted on Wordpress.
Today LawPadi has published over 500 legal articles and employs 5 automated chatbots on various legal matters and has over 50 lawyers in their network.
By 2019, Lawpadi already served between 30,000 to 40,000 unique users per month.
The platform initially also had a referral engine where people could specify the level of experience of the lawyer they wanted to consult. In this way, LawPadi could help match customers with pre-packaged types of legal services. However, after about 6 months into piloting this referral strategy, Babatunde began to realize it was not working. He realized that a lot of people simply were not comfortable getting referred to legal services on the internet. It felt too new. “There is a lot of mistrust about online things in Nigeria,”
Lessons and recommendations
Babatunde is still in the process of pursuing a sustainable business model to fund LawPadi for the long-term. Here is his advice for other entrepreneurs looking to build social enterprise models in the legal field:
Start with passion, especially if you are working in a developing market: “Especially in developing countries where the legal services sector isn’t very advanced or developed, you need to have a foundational sense of passion for this work. Creating a business model that works is a very uphill task. You are going to have to grind at it.
Understand the pain points of your specific users: A lot of people try to import business models that work well in other countries, particularly from places like the US and the UK. This was the mistake I made initially. When trying to set up a legal services initiative in Nigeria, I was thinking about what worked for LegalZoom, Avvo or MarketLawyer. But you cannot import those business models into your own country.
Try to create something that is scalable, but do not go to automation first. “Obviously when you start you want to be able to have a grasp of the problem as much as possible. Do not go to automation first. Try and get your hands dirty. Speak to the people. We have gotten this far because when there were only 100 users, we would speak to all of them individually. Try to understand them and deeply understand the problem. Then only go to automation when you have a potential solution and want to scale that.”
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