Legal Tech – French Tech Bangkok X Belaws Interview
Hello Vincent Birot the co-founder of Belaws, and I am also French lawyer. Graduated with master’s degree in business law from Paris 1, from Great Britain, from Barreau de Paris and after that worked at Baker & McKenzie law firm, before moving to Thailand in 2015 to join a regional law firm. Working in Thailand, seeing all these new technologies that were coming and which were brought to revolutionize the way we work as a lawyer, I began to take an interest in how to precisely optimize the processes of law firms.
At the same time I joined French Tech which had just started in Bangkok and as I was in charge of young professionals within the Franco Thai Chamber of Commerce, we organized an event which is French Tech x Chamber of Commerce, for which we had as guest of honor Julien Chalté who, at the time, had just finished his serie B.
Hello Julien Chalté, digital entrepreneur since the early 2000s, I started my career in France with webmaster services, then in the media with French TV celebrities, before finally exploring Asia just after the 2008 crisis. Coming here to set up a technical team and finding the way, decided to stay here to settle and set up businesses here. And that’s where I set up a platform called Wear You Want, which was a fashion e-commerce platform at the time. It was at that moment, precisely, as Vincent said, that I had just completed my serie B of about $ 4 million in mid-2015, which was still a large sum for the time and especially the first serie B in Thailand for a foreign company. And so, there was this French Tech event where we first met.
And that’s where finally, shortly after, my company called on the services of Vincent and his firm to manage our affairs and manage all our legal aspects.
Then we have been working together, Julien said to me one day, it would be good if we did business together, we didn’t know what at that time. And I came up to him with Belaws a legal platform idea.
Thank to French Tech, we finally met and we are proud to say that we are the first collaboration from the French Tech event.
Belaws, the company that we created together in Thailand at the end of 2017, it is in reality a new model of international law firm where the whole part, we will say on-boarding, process, allocation of files of lawyer were digitalized. And our back office, we take the lawyers of large international and senior firms who do the legal work directly for our clients at a price pre-fixed in advance. This allows us to be competitive in the high value-added legal market and then all the management part of the legal secretariat has been digitized: company creation, change of director, transfer of shares. All of this can be done online in Thailand, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Basically, it’s already simple, you must put it in the context, we only address an activity that is very, very old, very old school and which is not online at all. So, we already have lawyers like Vincent said, who is also very senior and who is going digital and online. Already just that, it is an innovation that did not exist, or at least very little. So, in fact where we innovate is that we are going to tackle the entire value chain from customer discovery to customer on-boarding, engagement generation, online payment, even litigation, etc. We will address the entire value chain and especially the tedious steps which make lawyers lose a lot of time and margin to improve their process, we accelerate their process and give them the tools that will allow them to be more efficient and which will allow them to focus on their real added value rather than being dispersed over everything that goes around. We innovate a lot. After that, we also bring clients to these lawyers who are not necessarily the clients themselves and do not necessarily know where to go to find their lawyer. So, we solve the problem on the client side, in the sense that, for example, when I had set up my company, I would have loved to have seen this tool there to know which lawyer to contact according to the needs whether corporate, litigation, etc. And so, we address these points with digital both client side and lawyer.
Another important point is the terms of the quality of service. It is very difficult for clients, even more in South East Asia, to make sure that they have a good lawyer who really has the right skills. And even when we go to see large firms that are sometimes experts in a subject in a given country, they are not necessarily experts in another country or the partner lawyer, who is the local star, is not necessarily the one who will be in charge of the file.
So on that COVID-19, for us in reality, it was an opportunity. COVID saved us a few years. Those who dared not look for lawyers online, who do not know how to make payment online. All these barriers there have been removed with COVID. We still keep our relationship with lawyers, they are still in the heart of our technological tool. Once the clients have their lawyer, in reality they are confident, as if they had gone through with the traditional way.
Not at all, quite the contrary, precisely the lawyers, we help them in reality, we put them online, we generate leads for them and above all, we allow them to emancipate themselves in their work because the senior lawyer in a firm is actually dependent on the associates who bring the clients and we brings the clients to them. The lawyer earns more income and is independent through our platform. On the other hand, for some international firms, it is true that the current business is called into question, which has been working well so far because the online market continues to grow. The markets are important and there are not yet any digital platforms that really come to attack the market for value-added legal services.
The way we are structured today, with a regional presence in several countries, allows us to serve the needs of the most important corporations, the largest, which have both local and cross-border needs.
Now, if you can do something complicated, you can do something simple.
We also have the possibility, with our platform, to serve the needs of companies that are starting up start-ups or SMEs. In terms of price positioning, I would say that we are located similar to a local firm, now with the services of an international firm.
Our goal is to provide lawyers and clients with all the tools to manage the entire life of a client’s business from the beginning to the late stages. Whether legal as well as accounting or corporate secretary, everything will be there, on the same tool in one stop service. Therefore, the future developed challenges will go in this direction and go in the accentuation and the more and more complex development of these futures which go further and further in the level of what a business owner can do. Today and tomorrow, both locally and even regionally, and hopefully even globally.
With Belaws, we brought together all of our skills. We can take the client even before the lawyers in our market country, and then we do the invoicing for them, we take care of the accounting, compliance, legal contracts, litigation. And that now we are in six Southeast Asian countries.
In any case, we will be delighted to meet you in person at the next FrenchTech events, so don’t hesitate to come and see us, it will be a pleasure.