Divorce Right was founded in 2014 to make the divorce process easier, allowing parting couples to prepare and exchange documents online and keep up to date with their case. Winner of a place in the Janders Dean and LexisNexis 2016 Legal Innovation Index, here, founder and lawyer Anne-Marie Cade describes how technology can help make a difference to the very human story behind it and how solicitors need to find news ways to solve old problems.
How would you describe your company to a friend?
I am the Divorce Right lawyer and I assist families to reach an out of court settlement by steering them away from conflict and towards a peaceful resolution. I do this through a process of mediation and collaboration, through my online platform which makes the process more efficient as much of the divorce process can be completed online.
And if you had to describe it to a techy?
Initial interaction with the client is through an online Intelligent Induction Questionnaire to convert more visitors into actual clients. User-friendly tools empower clients to assemble documents with confidence, and lawyers to exchange them instantaneously online. I have a client portal too. Paperwork associated with each step of the process is filed on the portal for easy reference, with clients also able to receive and send notifications and messages, view their case status, schedule conferences and pay bills online.
When were you founded?
Myself Anne-Marie Cade, The idea for the platform came after watching families “tear themselves apart during the divorce process”. The court process and the traditional adversarial approach does little to help families through the healing process and sometimes makes their problems worse. No matter what the status of your relationship with your ex-partner, you will always be mum and dad which is why a different approach to divorce is so necessary. Divorce is not all about the paperwork. It’s about a major life transition and I want to make a difference in the way divorce is done. We now live in an age where a reorganisation is required towards new ways of problem solving – lawyers must think more intuitively and in an inclusive way to better serve client’s needs. This is especially so in the area of family law. When 46 per cent of all marriages end in divorce, it is important that the focus is on healing instead of legal wrangling so the children of these broken marriages are not subjected to conflict between the parents. DivorceRight removes the barriers people often face when looking to access legal services delivered via a traditional approach. People can feel intimidated working with lawyers. But modern ways of working create a more familiar environment for clients, and they are not intimidated at the thought of seeing a lawyer. This approach fosters a healthy client-lawyer relationship.
Who are your key managers/senior execs?
I am a sole practitioner and I outsource the IT work to IT professionals to assist me. I also have a panel of lawyers, mediators, accountants, financial planners, psychologists and child psychologists who I refer the clients to.
What is your growth strategy?
During 2017 I plan to consolidate and grow this market in Victoria and then around Australia. I would like to further develop the tech area in order to provide an even better customer experience.
Who are your target clients?
Couples who are separating or divorcing.
Have there been any key changes in direction since you were founded?
I keep developing the platform as I go along depending on the needs and requirements of clients. Initially I focussed on the digital functionality but now I focus more on the interaction with the clients and the client experience as I am dealing with clients who are going through a very vulnerable period in their lives and they need a lot of hand holding along the way. The online approach facilitates this as I can be am more accessible to the clients. I am making the process as simple as possible so clients can understand the concepts.
What are the key challenges you face in your market?
Much of the legal system is based on old values and concerns of the past. The procedures were designed by people who lived in a different era. The law is constantly looking backwards at precedents, so things don’t change too fast. However, we are now in an age where a reorganisation is required towards new ways of problem solving – lawyers must think more intuitively and in an inclusive way to better serve client’s needs. This is especially so in the area of family law. So it’s a process of educating the clients that there is in fact a better way and also getting lawyers to think along these lines.
What are the most exciting developments you’ve seen in your market in the past year to 18 months?
I find people are becoming more receptive to accessing legal services online as they see the cost benefits that go with this approach. Costs of accessing family lawyers and delays in getting court dates impedes justice, and clients tend to whittle down their savings on legal fees. Clients are slowly coming to see that there is inherent value in what technology brings to the legal industry, and therefore these avenues must be explored. This will enable people to have better access to justice.
The transformation renders firms more flexible in their response to clients demands and allows them to deliver solutions to clients beyond the conventional way. There are new ways of working.
Tell us something that people don’t already know about the company?
I adopt a holistic approach to divorce and treat it not just a legal problem but as an issue that has legal, emotional and financial implications, hence the reason I adopt a collaborative approach to the way I assist couples. I assist clients to make things “Right” again and in the process they save money and save their sanity.
Anne-Marie Cade is principal at Daniel Lew Le Mercier & Co in Victoria, Australia