A model of virtual legal practice: Claimify of Queensland, Australia

Jake Gardiner, Legal Manager, Claimify.

As a litigation lawyer who has been assisting injured people recover compensation via traditional methods for the last eleven years – most recently working in a large national plaintiff law firm – coming over to Claimify was a reawakening. No longer must I suit-up, dictate letters or bind up files. The practise of law is changing, much to the benefit of the community – and me. 

Claimify is a virtual legal practice, based in Brisbane, Australia, that assists people injured in motor accidents recover personal injury damages; providing an end-to-end online legal solution. Its values are simplicity, empathy, daring, trust and clarity. 

As a startup that has been trading for just a couple of months, supported by listed parent company Shine Corporate Ltd, we are still finding our feet and working through matters as they present. With a headcount of five, including legal staff working remotely, investment in comprehensive document management systems has been crucial. 

As an online offering, we have intentionally restricted our marketing to online opportunities including Google, Facebook and LinkedIn advertising.  

Whilst many clients cannot afford to fund legal services, we represent them on a speculative (no win, no fee) basis and also cap our legal fees in order to maximise accessibility and to provide the client with clarity and certainty around legal costs. 

Looking to technology to simplify and streamline the legal claim process, features of our offering include:

  • An online self-serve interview with an emphasis on user experience. An organisational psychologist and design experts were consulted on its composition; 
  • A deep learning algorithm that calls on data of over 10,000 previous claims in order to predict an outcome;
  • Online ID verification; 
  • An interactive client portal via which clients can obtain claim updates, access documents, share documents and notes, as well as provide client feedback.

Whilst the platform provides numerous benefits, access to justice is paramount. Statistically, a claimant that is not legally represented and resolves their claim directly with the insurer recovers, on average, approximately one fifth of that recovered by legally represented claimants – and that is following the deduction of legal fees, outlays and the like. Evidently, there is a need to ensure that all claimants receive legal advice prior to any resolution, in the interest of a just outcome. 

The cost of legal services can be an obstacle for many of the estimated 8.5 million people that require legal assistance each year. While some law firms require advance payment of legal fees, or require the client to obtain litigation funding from a third party financier, Claimify removes economic barriers by providing a transparent, deferred and capped-fee retainer to its clients. Often already suffering compromised financial circumstances due to their injuries, clients can obtain the benefit of expert legal services without worrying about funding or the end account. The fee is fixed and is only payable at the conclusion of the client’s claim, upon a successful outcome. 

Higher income earners will be less impaired in funding representation. Equally, many low income earners will qualify for legal aid funding to support their action. However, the “missing middle” are often compromised in their pursuit of justice.  Sadly, the economics of representing a clamant in a traditional firm sees many turned away. Those that are beyond working age, suffering a less significant injury or otherwise where a claim for economic impairment is unlikely to be successfully prosecuted, will often be denied speculative representation. Damages for a claimant’s pain and suffering is constrained under law, often providing a modest allowable sum. The legal works and associated costs on the other hand, including a firm’s overheads, are significant – often rendering the claim too small in quantum to commercially transact. Claimify does not face the same degree of financial constraint: maximising technology, including AI, we are able to service clients that have smaller, but no less worthy, legal entitlements.

As the vast majority of Queensland’s cities and sizeable towns feature on the eastern seaboard, those living in rural and remote locations are disadvantaged in accessing expert legal advice. Often, at best, small towns may have a general legal practitioner that cannot provide expert advice in the area of personal injury litigation. As a virtual legal practice, geography is no barrier, with Claimify providing an accessible legal solution to all. To illustrate, we have assisted a client in Emerald, Queensland – a small inland town that is approximately 270 kilometers from the coastal city of Rockhampton.

Professionals and others that find themselves short of time also find Claimify a convenient solution in accessing justice. Engaging a usual law firm requires the client to travel to the lawyer’s office and engage with them face-to-face, often on a number of occasions throughout the course of the legal process. With legal practices typically trading exclusively during business hours, this can be especially problematic for clients that work during business hours. Similarly, those that are time poor can struggle to spare the time out of their day. Claimify provides a solution: the client runs their claim in their own time. They can provide information, instructions and documents when it suits them. Similarly, reviewing legal advice and communicating via the client portal or email, can be completed in their own time. Executing documents electronically using DocuSign also avoids the need to print piles of paperwork and another form of convenience.  

Members of the younger generation have taken fondly to our online offering, which isn’t an unexpected occurrence. During development, students were commissioned to test various elements of the product, including the mobile app. The feedback was positive, with users seamlessly working through the process and engaging with us without issue. Times have changed for the younger members of the community – online interaction has gone beyond video games and ordering a pizza: you can now qualify for a driver licence from the comfort of your bedroom. Interestingly however, Claimify’s initial client was a 62 year-old lady; shaking up any assumptions around our expected market audience. 

But we’re not standing still. The practice of law must continue to adapt in order to meet the demands of the market. On the back of findings of the recent Financial Services Royal Commission, it is evident that many claimants seeking to make incapacity based claims under insurance associated with their superannuation policy require legal support in securing a just and fair outcome. Many claims are unreasonably denied by large insurers and financial institutions that continue to report record profits. The practice area lends itself well to an online legal offering and, as such, Claimify is presently in development to expand our operations to assist this group. 

Leave a Reply