Legaler, and several other legal tech companies including Clio and Juro, launched freemium-style giveaways of their software at the start of the pandemic. But did anyone take up these offers? In Legaler’s case, founder Stevie Ghiassi told Artificial Lawyer he has so far given away around $2m-worth of the company’s tech.
Legaler, which provides an encrypted online meeting platform to the legal sector, plus related tools such as scheduling and archiving, decided to let people take its $228 plan free for 12 months from March this year. The $2m-worth of the company’s software that was handed out for free means that the equivalent of 8,700-plus individuals took up the deal.
One example of a lawyer who took up the free offer was Thomas Burton, an estate planning specialist at a small US firm and who often deals with elderly or high-risk clients. In their case, COVID-19 meant it was incredibly difficult to meet these elderly clients.
‘My office building shut down access to all visitors except tenants, therefore switching to virtual meetings has been my only option,’ said Burton.
But, aside from the success in terms of uptake, did this make any business sense? After all, Legaler and other companies going down the freemium path still need to stay operational. There’s no point in giving away loads of free software to help people if you go bankrupt in the process, which then means your free service disappears as well.
Artificial Lawyer asked Ghiassi (pictured above) about this dilemma. He explained that the free contracts operate on a rolling basis and will need to be renewed at the end of the 12 months, and that will then be on a paid basis.
However, he pointed out that: ‘They don’t automatically convert [to a paid subscription] as we didn’t want to trap anyone or force them into hidden T&Cs. It’s super transparent – you signup and activate, and get the 12 months paid on us. We’re also confident that our new features, like white labelling and transcription, will get users to upgrade later regardless.’
So, clearly there is a longer term business aspect to this, i.e. back in March/April when a lot of people were in a state of shock and not buying, getting lawyers to at least sign up to your software long enough to get used to it made a lot of sense.
Then, of course, you hope that as things improve they’ll convert. End result: you’ve helped a lot of people during a crisis, and you hopefully generate a whole new group of clients who probably see your company in a positive light.
Last word on this: Ghiassi noted that although video conferencing tech has helped a lot in these remote times, key challenges remain such as some jurisdictions still preventing the use of e-signatures. For example, where Burton works, in Wisconsin, wills cannot be executed by e-signature. So, there is still plenty to do when it comes to remote lawyering.