The legal industry as a whole is rapidly continuing to automate, digitize and innovate. Digitization is gaining in more importance, between countries that have successfully adapted to the increased use of digital technologies and those that have not and therefore risk being left behind. Accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the digitalised legal service is gaining more and more relevance and interest for developing countries as a good path for change and striving for progress.
If the development of LegalTech can be a source of simplification and acceleration of judicial processes, even the potential democratization of law, the rate of adaptation is relatively low, which is due to a certain number of factors, including lack of resources or awareness.
II. The readiness for LegalTech in developing countries
LegalTech aims to use computer technology and software to enable the delivery of legal services more efficiently. This approach mainly aims to dematerialize and automate legal processes. All the stakes and the interest of this digitization of the law also relate to the developing countries as such, by responding to educational, social and economic needs.
Given that developing countries face many challenges including more difficult access to justice and poor knowledge, or even non-knowledge of laws and rights, bringing LegalTech culture into everyday life might be the right solution.
In the same perspective, Daniel Quintero founded his LegalTech startup “LeginTech S.A.S.” in Colombia and France, his project aims to revolutionize the practice of personal data law practice and offer various digital legal services to companies, particularly in Colombia. He explains that Colombia, being a developing country, definitely needs LegalTech, especially because of “the enormous historical delay in the administration of justice”.
Technology solutions including LegalTech can fill the gap by helping judges and courts make decisions more easily in less time and with much more resource savings. In particular, with legal design, it makes documents easier to read, promote fast data processing and save time, which can speed up legal proceedings, facilitate process management and ultimately have faster decisions.
III. LegalTech as an up-to-date response to the needs of legal practice
LegalTech can appear as a lever for well-being and progress by bringing public authorities and citizens closer together, improving access to information, legal aid and services.
LegalTech to the rescue of companies
Legal risk management is often misunderstood and not taken seriously. VSEs/SMEs as well as entrepreneurs who do not always have the financial means to use an external law firm or an internal lawyer. LegalTech will offer many advantages: by allowing VSMEs to be able to outsource the tasks of the internal legal department, by facilitating complex and time-consuming administrative procedures, by reducing costs, while being efficient and fast.
For example, through the LegalTech service, companies can simplify the procedures for setting up a business by carrying out certain tasks directly from the platforms (publication of legal notices, declarations to the authorities, modification of the statutes, etc.), download templates of administrative documents (employment contracts, confidentiality clause, etc.) and standard letters (payment claim, internship certificate, summons of an employee, etc.), simplify legal and accounting procedures and financial, often long, costly, tedious (audit, contracts, due diligence, etc.).
LegalTech to the rescue of the public
Technology applied to law facilitates legal information and makes it more accessible and simpler for individuals. Making the law clearer by simplifying procedures is one of the best things offered by LegalTech. Thanks to Legal Design, litigants can understand the law and easily perform primary legal tasks (drafting a lease contract, an employment contract, etc.). The characteristic of LegalTech is to generate tailor-made and personalized services. It will no longer be mandatory to go to a notary to sign a will or to a lawyer to create an LLC using electronic signature.
LegalTech as a potential tool of the democratization
LegalTech is seen as a way to provide tools to improve the practice of law. This radical and philosophical evolution of legal services will eventually allow people to easily have recourse to a legal professional in situations where they did not even dare to consult for fear of tariffs or ignorance of the judicial process. LegalTech will contribute to the democratization of law by making it more accessible, transparent and easy to understand. With the sum of unlimited accessibility of services and reduced prices, the litigant is placed at the heart of the LegalTech strategy.
Ultimately, thanks to the combined effort of institutions and actors deprived of the law, access to justice will no longer be perceived as a social marker but rather as a norm, a recovered fundamental right.
IV. The obstacles faced by LegalTech while settling down in developing countries
Many opportunities in terms of legaltech are to be seized in developing countries, but it is essential to take into account the local challenges to be met. The first obstacle that can be mentioned is the difficulty of accessing an internet connection.
In the age of technological innovation, developing countries, however, remain on the sidelines. The vast majority of the world’s unconnected people live in low- and middle-income countries.
According to OECD, of the 2.9 billion people who are still not connected to the internet, most live exactly in developing countries. These populations either do not have internet coverage or have difficulty using the internet.
In 2021, 90% of people in developed countries used the internet, while this percentage only reached 57% in developing countries (ITU Statistics Database).
Daniel Quintero explains that in addition to the main problem of access to the internet, the problem is also not having the knowledge of using the internet. Even more and in general, it is the cultural obstacle of not having been familiar with the use of technology in daily life or its integration into the professional activities of lawyers, judges or other practitioners.
As OECD testifies – The reason most often cited in developing countries to explain the non-use of the Internet is the lack of digital skills.
Quintero considers that because of the huge lack of computer skills, it would be preferable to integrate into the legal degree studying the element of technological skills to familiarize future legal actors with technology.
The next obstacle is the lack of stimulus or support from the public sector as well as the private sector, especially on the financial point. Nevertheless, the government’s pro-digitalization speeches, in practice, there is no encouragement to launch LegalTech startups.
Finally, he underlines the issue of public awareness, people do not even know what LegalTech is for and how one can take advantage of it. With limited resources, developing countries struggle to meet new regulatory demands and provide solutions to very specialized technical problems.
LegalTech has a special potential for developing countries, which is manifested in many ways – for citizens to become conscious about their rights and obligations, for small entrepreneurs – to get cheap and fast legal assistance, for courts – to simplify proceedings, to democratize legal processes and, ultimately, to facilitate the acceleration of the work of the legal system, which may to create a good basis to reduce the historical gap associated with the modernizing of the legal system.
However, many obstacles require the support and encouragement of LegalTech startups from the public sector by grant funding or institutional assistance.
The LegalTech sector has therefore not finished emerging and innovating in developing countries, however, there is still a long way to go for LegalTech to really immerse itself in the practice.
 See : Comment by Mr. Bertrand Cassar in the article “LegalTech: real opportunity or real nemesis of the legal professions?”, available: https://wydden.com/legaltech-reelle-opportunite-ou-veritable-nemesis-des-professions-du-droit/
 Le rapport de l’OCDE Coopération pour le développement 2021 : Pour une transformation numérique juste (Éditorial, Résumé et Synthèse), p.8, available : https://www.oecd.org/dac/dcr2021_fr_editorial_resume_synthese.pdf
 Le rapport de l’OCDE Coopération pour le développement 2021 : Pour une transformation numérique juste (Éditorial, Résumé et Synthèse), p.18
This article was prepared by Gvantsa Chaduneli.