The Rise of French Legal Tech
Just as in North America and other EU member states, French entrepreneurs and the French public often do not receive effective assistance in solving legal problems, either because of a lack of knowledge or because of insufficient funds. Recent polls have shown that the French public has little faith in their ability to approach lawyers.
In this context, online resources and other recent innovations have gradually expanded the provision of legal services. The French public increasingly view online legal services as a useful addition to the traditional services of lawyers. While official data is not yet available in this respect, the market share of online legal service providers in the French business of registering companies may already exceed 15%. The range of online legal services available for both SMEs and individuals is currently expanding at a rapid pace.
Comparison of the French market
A quick look at the legal sector shows a huge acceleration of technological projects over the past few years.
The first wave of players developed solutions to resolve disputes on the Internet B2C. Demanderjustice was the first to come to the market with a successful bid for a trial with small claims. The second wave, including such as Weclaim and ActionCivile, was focused on digitalizing and optimizing the actions of the French class (action teams).
In parallel, SaaS has become a common model for the delivery of a number of legal services, in particular for the creation of legal documents. This refers to Legalstart.fr, which provides interactive software programs that allow French SMEs to deal both with legal documents and with documents (for example, using a French LLC or filing a trademark). The very rapid growth of Legalstart (+50.000 users in less than 3 years) is an example of radical changes affecting the French market and is explained by the strong demand for simplified and less expensive solutions for the legal needs of consumers. This is combined with another structural trend, consisting of the separation of services and the disaggregation of legal issues among several suppliers.
Recently, several Internet-oriented compliance platforms between lawyers and clients have also appeared. The idea is to reduce the cost of obtaining relevant information about the price and quality of legal services. Sites such as Wengo and Alexia were pioneers. More recently, French courts have authorized a number of players for a non-compliance (legalup). More interestingly, new players, such as avostart.fr, are introducing a new approach to reviewing and evaluating attorneys that remain highly controversial in France.
Finally, B2B solutions are growing, such as new legal research browsers, adapting the technology for processing large amounts of data to legal materials (doctrine.fr) or intellectual tools (cryptanalysis).
French lawyers and other lawyers are increasingly using new tools to improve their service delivery process and gain access to a wider audience. After many years of skepticism or sometimes even strong opposition, lawyers are gradually gaining digital innovation.
Thousands of them are already using directly or indirectly legal platforms. Recently, business partnerships between lawyers and the French legal department were concluded, such as a new website for French notaries (through Notaire Huissier de Justice), working for legalstart.fr, which was launched in March 2016.
Interestingly, the French Bar Association (Conseil National des Barreaux) has also been innovating by purchasing an existing online platform for legal aid (Myavocat.fr), a site describing itself as a "law firm". Similarly, the French National Chamber of Bailiffs (Chambre Natinale des Huissiers de Justice) launched early this year a platform offering an alternative method of dispute resolution, another example of French lawyers actively advocating for digital innovations.
Ultimately, the French legal market should become more transparent and accessible in the coming years. Along with government-funded legal aid programs, legal platforms will continue to take into account consumer demand for cost-effective and efficient services. In addition, the growth of legal practice will give French lawyers the opportunity to modernize their services and reconsider their traditional methods of work.