When I jumped into this journey full-on just under a year ago, I could never have imagined I would be launching a startup in the middle of a global pandemic. Yet now, more than ever, the need for simple guidance for ordinary people facing legal challenges is so strong.
I can still picture myself sat in the lecture theatre many years ago during my time at Bristol University where I should have been fixated on whatever new equation was being thrown up onto the board, but instead, I was far too focused on the frustrations with my landlord and the undeniable realisation that there was really little I could do. I sat there imagining the multitude of ways the system could be better.
It was at that moment when I knew I had to put my skills to use. If I and my friends at university (at the time) found it so complex and confusing to deal with legal matters, there must be many more, who did not have the privilege afforded to us, in far worse situations.
It has been a number of years since then during which time I, like many, have had several instances where I wish I had spent my time studying Law instead. The rogue landlords at uni were followed by cancelled flights, faulty goods and a redundancy. I even took the questionable decision to represent myself in the small claims court - I won!
The combination of disdain for injustice and a constant need to solve problems I see with innovative solutions was the fuel needed for the creation of Lawya.
I wanted to set out here some principles that guide us while giving you some background, pledges and visions for the future. I hope this will, in turn, inspire you to trust in our mission and allow us to help you.
Unfortunately, but with often good reason, the law world is seen as inaccessible, an alien, intimidating and unaffordable privilege of those who happen to have a lawyer on speed dial.
In fact, more than 98% of all potential cases are abandoned, largely due to the time, cost and stress involved.
This means that all over the country, and the world, there are tenants being swindled out of their deposits, employees being unfairly dismissed and rogue traders making off with pensioners’ life savings.
We now live in a time where you can pull out your phone and be chatting to a doctor within the hour, have a restaurant meal delivered in 30 minutes or buy a double-decker bus (my dream).
We can’t promise that we are going to rid the world of rogue traders and unscrupulous employers or landlords but we hope that by making it more convenient for ordinary people to understand and act upon their rights, fewer people will have their lives in turmoil. And maybe, just maybe, if those with all the current bargaining power realise that they can no longer take it as given that there will be no recourse, then they may be more inclined to act responsibly.
Our mission, therefore, is simple: law for all
We want to make it incredibly simple and straightforward for ordinary people to understand their rights and to get the help they need when they need it most.
Legal help shouldn’t be an expensive last resort but an accessible resource.
At this moment, our ‘product’ is live to the world. It functions, it helps people get the help they need but it really is just the first version. We’ve got here with very little money and a hell of a lot of work with no pay.
Moving forwards we want to keep improving on what we offer on our journey to be a law firm that’s not a law firm. If it makes your lives easier, we’ll consider it!
You are trusting us in a time that maybe one of the worst in your lives, we want you to know we are on your side.
There are people at the heart of the problems we deal with, on both sides. We will do our best to treat you with the compassion and understanding that you would expect from a close friend.
No surprises or secrets, what you see is what you get.
We avoid complicated technical legal wording, we don’t shower you in more than you can comprehend, we want it to be easy for you to access and a pleasant experience to use. We like good design and focus intensely on the user experience.
We believe that innovation and technology can bring about meaningful impacts on people’s lives. We believe that an inspirational business can be built which helps all sides without having to cost society. Some may disagree with money playing a role but we hope to show that ‘business’ doesn’t have to mean ‘bad’.
If you are confiding in us, it is only right that we keep that to ourselves. The only time we’ll ever share your information is if you ask us to in order to get further help and we will only ever share what is necessary.
Lawya may originally have been my concept, but it has taken the work of a great many people to take us to where we are today.
I am an entrepreneur at heart, I started my first business at 14 and ever since have been involved in a number of projects and startups. I’ve had the pleasure of a varied career so far including some successes and some failures. I’ve helped launch other people’s businesses, I’ve launched my own. My core expertise is in building new technology products and leading the teams that do that
As I write this letter I am reading through more than 1000 messages from people offering their support to help us on our mission. It is simultaneously incredibly humbling, exciting and daunting.
This is the result of the generous work of many solicitors, barristers, trainees, law students, developers, designers, marketers and managers. Thank you to all of those who have helped us get this far, I’m excited to continue working with you along the way.
These are not the days that any of us had expected to be experiencing. We are in the midst of a global pandemic that has placed a third of our workforce on hold, caused mass redundancies and seen unprecedented laws enacted in record speed.
I very much hope that this crisis presents an opportunity to do things differently, to be more compassionate and to change the status quo.
Stay safe and please do get in touch if you wish.
Founder of Lawya
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