Online platforms and Big Data promise to revolutionize the legal market

Picture taken from: Lex Latin, Digital Magazine 

Picture taken from: Lex Latin, Digital Magazine 

The new technologies that change the business models of transportation, tourism, commerce and advertising are looking forward to change the law firm's industry. And they already landed in Latin America.

Don't say I didn’t warn you. Yes, my fellow attorney, even if you don’t believe it, in the same way that Uber already did with public transportation, Airbnb with accommodation and travel tickets, Amazon.com with retail and Google with Advertising, new business models seek  to break the traditional market of legal advising, based on the applications of new technologies.

The change can be dramatic, if you have in mind that the legal market moves about 400,000 millions dollars a year around the world and that the companies are beginning to demand more objective methods to justify their spending on legal services. It is not uncommon, therefore, that those who promote these initiatives see a future in which social, economic relations would no longer be sufficient to get customers.

That's how Alvaro Ramirez Bonilla, founder of B&R Latin America IP LLC warns the legal industry. Alvaro, defines itself as the Uber of the legal counseling, before considering himself like a traditional study. From his headquarters in Bogotá, Colombia, created in September 1999, and another office in Miami, United States, opened in June of last year, his team attends and responds all the requirements to more than 2.000 international customers.

¨Our model is focus in creating an intermediation between clients and attorneys. Basically, there are clients all over the world with legal needs in different countries of Latin America. We are in the middle, but we add value by simplifying the region with a single proposal, a single payment, a single power of attorney, a single point of contact, a double supervision on the processes, and technological tools such as an internet portal that allows each customer to know in real time the state of its processes¨.
— Alvaro Ramirez

B&R Latin America has worked with companies from United States, Germany, China and South Korea, with companies such as Samsung, Huawei, Linio, Easy Taxi and Petco. Working with tasks related to Intellectual Property in 18 countries of Latin America, where they have at least one associate in every country.

¨Most of the foreign clients sees Latin American countries as a single market. But when they are going to protect their trademarks and patents, they quickly understand that is not a single market and that they have to spend a lot of time dealing particularities of each nation.  In practice, then, the majority of clients wants to file a trademark or a patent in several countries at the same time and we make sure this happens. It sound easy, but to coordinate the work of 18 countries is a complex job. Therefore, technology is essential to our business model¨, continued. The firm invests approximately  $50,000 dollars annually in technological development.

How do you guarantee the quality of the service?, seems to be the million-dollar question. ¨First, we look for the best suppliers, which is not easy in Latin America. But we also add a second layer of control to our clients records. Not only the local lawyers keeps on track the files, in Bogota there is also a team that monitors them. Sometimes clients do not see the effort that we do to have their files double checked and secured, but is is incredible the number of tasks that can be forgotten by local lawyers¨, answers.  

The entrepreneur  said that, under this mode, he hopes to check in no less than $1 million in 2016. ¨Our revenue model is quite simple: we buy cheaper services, we add value to them and we sell them more expensive. But we always have an eye on rentability, because the contribution of each process is low, since each process requires a lot of work¨, assures. Therefore, our struggle is to always to automate the process: 

¨What a machine can do, to do it, because it will substantially reduce the margin of error¨.
— Alvaro Ramirez

Alvaro Ramirez intends, in this way, to keep on improving the efficiency of its operations, with the purposes of increasing the ¨production capacity¨ of its initiative, without increasing fixed costs. That's, for a short term. For a medium term, he leaves the aim of expanding its market share.  He is confident that the future will be on his side: ¨I think that the industrial property sector will have the same turn out as the travel agencies. The same will happen in the rest of the legal services industry: Sooner or later technology is going to take the jobs of those who are not updated. The market is going to have new players and we are going to be one of them.


To read more about this interview go to: http://lexlatin.com/reportaje/plataformas-en-linea-y-big-data-prometen-disrumpir-el-mercado-juridico/


Hernán, M. & Álvaro, R. (2016). Plataformas en línea y big data prometen revolucionar el mercado jurídico. Retrieved from Lex Latin Website: http://lexlatin.com/reportaje/plataformas-en-linea-y-big-data-prometen-disrumpir-el-mercado-juridico/  (Article translated from Spanish to English by B&R Latin America’s Team)