INTERVIEW: Rohan Mahajan, Founder of LawRato Tells Us About His Journey #AgamiInterviews

LawRato is an interactive online platform that makes it faster and easier to find and hire the best Lawyers in any city or court in India. 

It has been shortlisted as a candidate for the prestigious Agami Prize.

We, at Lawctopus, dig deeper and ask Rohan Mahajan, founder of LawRato, to shed more light on what sets them apart.

Rohan Mahajan, founder of LawRato

 

Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Hello to all the upcoming lawyers, law-makers, law-breaker-savers, judiciary rank aspirers and the ones who make it, and not to forget very few ‘go-with-the-flow’ folks who are not sure why are they even pursuing legal education.

My name is Rohan Mahajan and before the last category ones (go with the flow kinds) stop reading further, would like to tell you all that I belonged there when I was pursuing my legal education from Campus Law Centre during the early years of this century.

Well, I completed my legal education, went on to be a global marketing professional (traveled 20+ countries frequently) and came back to India to start LawRato.com – India’s leading legal advice and lawyer search platform currently helping over 15 Lac users find the right legal path every month.

With 50,000+ lawyers supporting us across 700+ cities in India, the journey of 3.5 years has seen its ups and downs.

Why LawRato and what services does it provide?

Back in 2009, I was working in Singapore & Jakarta, Indonesia. A legal issue cropped up during my stint, and surprisingly, I was left dangling for help. Even in the age of internet and globalization, I had no platform to seek a verified and a reliable solution to my problem. It occurred to me how there would be many more stranded like me. And hence, the seeds of LawRato were sown.

There is no way whatsoever by which a common man can evaluate and identify the right lawyer for their legal situation.

With no data available on the lawyers’ performance and track record, its next to impossible to tell which lawyer would be the right one for your need. It becomes more difficult, as unlike healthcare, where there are clear specialists for different healthcare problems (cardiologist, neurologist, etc.), lawyers take up matters across multiple practice areas and there are no defined specialists for each practice area like property matters, matrimonial matters and others.

Hence came the idea of LawRato.com where the core service we provide is to help users get free legal advice from experienced lawyers in India.

Since many of our readers are college-going young people, tell us something about your college life. 

Honestly, the only memories I have from my law school days are those of gorging on food (especially the mutton kebabs at Delhi School of Economics), shopping at the Bungalow Road (North Campus, DU), and helping friends contest the Law Fac elections.

As far as studies go, I have always applied logic in everything I have studied, and this ensured that there were no difficulties whatsoever in moving from my science background to the legal studies.

Quite thankfully, we didn’t have the peer pressure and mandatory requirements of doing internships in those years so we got a lot of time to hang out with friends, catch up over movies, and mastering the art of doing nothing in the evenings.

What made you realize that there is a gap in how the legal fraternity interacts with potential clients?

With 3 Crore pending matters and 17 Lac new cases filed each month in various courts in the country, there was no transparent way to get access to the right lawyer so far. This becomes graver as 1 in 5 clients seeking legal consultation files a case. This makes it a whopping 1 crore consultations each month.

With most of us not knowing where and how to find the right lawyer, we end up either reaching out to someone through a close reference or finding one through local directory listings.

Either of these routes has no way to promise the credibility and quality of the lawyer as references are mostly based on 1 or 2 past experiences and local listings have no control over who is listing themselves as professionals.

A lot of clients end up in legal issues where they need a counsel to represent them in a faraway city. Be it a property situated in another city where relatives are having an illegal possession or a cheque bounce matter where the other party has filed a case in another city or matrimonial matters where one of the spouse has gone to his / her parental home thousands of miles away and pressed criminal charges in the local police station, the need to a local counsel in that city is of utmost importance to ensure the matter is handled in the most appropriate manner.

How do you reach out to lawyers and how are lawyers vetted before they become attached to LawRato?

When we started, it was my network of college friends from CLC days who were the first ones to join the platform. I requested each of those 10 friends who came on board to give me 10 references each and we were able to find the first 100 lawyers for the platform.

The referral network gave us our first 1000 lawyers post which the word had spread and we started receiving 20-30 sign-up requests every day. Currently, we receive over 100 new lawyer sign-up requests every day.

We have an online and offline vetting mechanism in place to ensure genuine lawyers get onboard LawRato.com. The verification process includes verifying the Bar Council registration to referral checks from other lawyers practicing in the courts mentioned by the lawyer signing-up.

How has LawRato’s journey been till now? What have been some of the major successes and hurdles along the way?

It’s been a rollercoaster ride so far, as any fast-growing startup would have.

Some of the major successes have been in terms of user testimonials, volumes of users coming to the platform every day and when some of the young lawyers credit their success to LawRato.com.

One of the most satisfying and humbling experiences was when we were able to help Nirbhaya’s parents with pro-bono representation through senior counsels for their case in the Supreme Court. I had tears in my eyes when Nirbhaya’s parents held on to my hands while the final verdict was being pronounced in the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 5 May 2017.

LawRato runs and maintains a very informative YouTube page on some basic but important legal questions. How do you see LawRato using other social mediums to educate people on some of these questions?

We at LawRato.com are committed to help all our users get access to expert legal advice.

While a lot of users post their specific questions on our platform that are answered by experienced lawyers, most of the legal queries our users have are around common legal issues like ‘how to file for divorce’, ‘how to obtain succession certificate’ etc.

What started as an experiment with making videos of these common legal topics has surprisingly given us tremendous results of over 2 million youtube views in just 6 months since we started posting these videos.

We have already launched our channel LawTV where currently we host popular legal guide videos and are working on making this a media channel where we can host debates and discussions between lawyers on topics of public interest.

Our Facebook and Twitter handle are quite active where we post legal news and other informative blogs regularly.

Please tell us about your team and how you have grown since inception.

We currently are a team of 50 people with 25 young lawyers, 10 people in the tech team, 10 people in marketing and other support roles and 5 law interns.

We have been growing over 10% Month on Month w.r.t team size since the last 1.5 years.

How can law schools, law students and young lawyers contribute to LawRato? 

We generate a lot of helpful content every day for our users so they can read and get self-help on common subjects.

This content is created by our hand-picked team of law interns who work with experienced lawyers to ensure correctness of articles before they are published on the platform.

LawRato.com is proud to be one of the very few companies that run a real-work internship program where interns not only get hands-on experience working in a legal startup, they also get an industry-best stipend for it.

Young lawyers who have their profile at LawRato.com are the most active in answering queries received from users.

This not only helps them learn a lot of practical aspects of law,  it also provides them good exposure to potential clients that help them build their practice in very early years of their profession.

It’s been five years since the inception of LawRato. What is the next five-year Plan of Action?

The next five-year plan is to ensure LawRato.com becomes the starting point of everyone’s legal journey in India. Whether someone is looking to get answers to their legal issues or are looking to engage a lawyer, they must not look beyond LawRato.com as they can get free legal advice from experienced lawyers before engaging the lawyer.

To ensure we meet our plan, we are working towards providing access to LawRato.com in multiple Indian languages. With Hindi, Tamil, Bangla, Marathi, Kannada and Telugu already launched and many other languages in pipeline, we are on the path to be the preferred choice of all Indians to access expert legal advice.

Your advice for future entrepreneurs, innovators, and change makers or people just looking to start things.

Entrepreneurship is for people who want to see a change in the way they lead their daily lives. If you feel that you can, in some way, impact the life of a few people, give your idea a shot and see how it works.

If your prototype is able to impact even one person’s life, go ahead and get involved in full-time entrepreneurship.

However, also remember that there is nothing such as work-life balance if you are looking into starting up on your own.

One of my favourite quotes is – “In entrepreneurship, you live a few years of your life like no one else does, so that you can live the rest of your life like no one else can!

What book, movie or sport do you draw your inspirations from?

I love Jerry Maguire. If you truly believe in what you do, care about your people and work hard, you can succeed even in cutthroat environments.

 

The interview was conducted by Ribhu Mukherjee. 

 

Agami PrizeThe Agami Prize will be awarded to innovations and entrepreneurial initiatives that can exponentially increase quality, effectiveness, access, and inclusion in and around law and justice. Read more here.

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