Nigeria’s DIY Law making access to legal transparent, simple and affordable

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DIYlaw is Nigeria’s foremost legal technology company. They aim to create access to legal services and information; empowering entrepreneurs by providing access to simplified and quality legal services and information at affordable prices using technology, legal know-how and project management.
The company won the 2015, Hague Institute for the Internalisation of Law (HiiL), SME Empowerment Innovating Justice Challenge, East & West Africa. We spoke to DIYLaw further on how they aim to make legal transparent, simple and affordable.

DIYLaw co-founder Odunoluwa Longe

Briefly tell us about yourselves, your educational background, team and how you came together to form DIYLaw
My name is Odunoluwa Longe, I’m co-founder of DIYlaw, a legal technology company. I’m a lawyer with a background in venture-backed funding, technology investment banking and corporate law firm practice. I graduated from the University of Lagos where I studied Law. I also have a Masters degree in Law from the Northwestern school of Law and a Certificate in Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management.

DIYlaw was founded by Bola Olanisakin, Funkola Odeleye and I. Three of us saw a need to bring legal, project management and technology together to address legal challenges faced by entrepreneurs. Funkola is also a lawyer with a similar background as mine but with expertise in IP and compliance and Bola is a web designer. She also graduated from the University of Lagos where she studied law, and has a Masters degree in Finance & Financial Law – School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Bola has a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Lagos, and a Masters degree in Applied Information Technology, from Towson University and a Project Management Certificate from the Project Management Institute.

I lead on development & strategy; Funkola on legal & operations; Bola handles code & technology. We also have an extraordinary team with expertise cutting across legal, software development, digital marketing to mention a few.

We create access to legal services, resources and service providers for entrepreneurs with the goal of making legal simple and affordable.

How would you describe your company; how does it work?
DIYlaw is your one-stop hub for simplified legal services as an entrepreneur. We pride ourselves in being able to provide legal services easily and at affordable rates. We say easily because you can access our services online and we take away the stress involved in many of the processes involved in accessing legal services. Our services are fully online and they are available at www.diylaw.ng. The services range from business registrations, legal documents, access to legal resources and a lawyer directory with lawyers classified by region and practice areas.

What market gap did you spot that motivated you to start the company?
Whilst I was still working in the Investment Banking sector, I ran (and still run) a small legal consultancy alongside my co-founder Funkola, which is focused on tech startups. We worked with many entrepreneurs and discovered that there was a limit to how many entrepreneurs we could help doing everything ourselves. We also came to the realisation that there are many things in the legal profession that are routine and can therefore be automated. This is how the idea for DIYLaw was born; a platform that would use tech to automate many of the legal processes and be available to many users.

How has uptake been like since you launched?
It has been quite an amazing experience filled with its challenging moments and achievements too. We are working hard at achieving our vision and we are taking the leaps required per time.

Who is your major competition? What do you do different to distinguish yourself from them?
Talking about competition, we have quite some legal tech startups who offer similar products and services, and of course the conventional law firms. However, our ability to excellently and efficiently take the stress off our customers at little cost makes us preferred. This is coupled with the fact that our services are easily accessed.

What are some of the biggest challenges you faced since the inception of the company?
At the inception, we outsourced our logistics and delivery and it nearly cost us our reputation. We tried four different companies but we kept getting bad customer feedback until we decided to handle it ourselves. After we brought it in-house we got very good feedback because we were able to have direct control and set the standard for how we wanted things to be done.
Another challenge would be the ability to convince our target market that legal can indeed be simple and uncomplicated. We work on convincing our clients by making our user experience simple and providing engaging and simplified content.

What advice would you wish to share with aspiring African entrepreneurs?
One of the things we did that really helped us was putting things down on paper. This is something that many entrepreneurs neglect to do. From the get go we knew we wanted our business to be a social enterprise. So as much as we expected to be a profitable business, it was equally important to us that we were making a difference. If you do decide to position your business to help people, one of things we learnt is you have to find deliberate ways of collecting data and measuring your impact. Just like you measure your revenue or profits, you need to track what change you are making.