LAW FOR ALL’s mission to make the law affordable and accessible for all South Africans continues to make strides, thanks to the company looking towards the future by embracing technology and correcting the wrongs of the past by sincerely championing economic transformation in the legal industry.
Since 1993, LAW FOR ALL has constantly evolved to become a trusted and caring friend in the law, and the reason for its continued success can be attributed to the company’s commitment to bring about change and make a positive impact in South Africa.
5 Reasons Why LAW FOR ALL is Ahead of the Pack
An Accessible LAW FOR ALL Network
Access to the law within South Africa remains unequal; in fact, in many ways, the South African legal industry still caters to the privileged minority. This means that the majority of citizens struggle to access justice and enforce their legal rights. Realising that the law is still inaccessible for many, LAW FOR ALL created a network that comprises a unified panel of private firms (better known as Panel Attorneys) that are dedicated to assist in transforming access to justice. This allows people, who are financially disadvantaged, to access professional legal services across the country when they need help the most.
The network is made up of a transformative, diverse collection of firms of which 57% are black-owned and 12% are black female- owned. Through this growing network, LAW FOR ALL ensures legal services to people who otherwise would not be able to afford lawyers. The company pays this network of firms on behalf of clients through its insurance partnership with ABSA Insurance Company.
An Inclusive LAW FOR ALL Legal Team
It is important for LAW FOR ALL to walk the walk and talk the talk, so fostering and encouraging and inclusive legal team is essential. LAW FOR ALL’s in-house legal teams are dedicated to providing expert legal services in a caring and sensitive manner and a shining example of an alternative method of providing legal assistance to South Africans that don’t qualify for free legal-aid. The teams comprise 121 legal practitioners, who act as mediators, 38 paralegals and 38 additional support staff. The legal teams are all representative of and reflects South Africa, with 88% black employees and 12% white employees. On the gender front, 72% of the teams are made up of women.
LAW FOR ALL employees enjoy a working environment of continuous learning through challenging and stimulating work, fully funded training for competence and development of future capability. The company prides itself in a 100% internal promotions rate for managerial positions.
LAW FOR ALL is also dedicated to training and development of younger legal minds. The company sponsors a Leadership Programme at the UCT Business School, which helps Black leaders in the legal fraternity enhance their skills; and a Paralegal Leadership programme, which resulted in most candidates becoming permanent employees at LAW FOR ALL
What’s more, the company has a national footprint, and teams work from 11 offices throughout South Africa (of course, this means it’s easier for someone to find a caring friend in the law). The legal team has managed to retain its service excellence while dealing with over 80 000 new legal matters, resolving case backlogs and decreasing the lifespan of cases to only 30 days.
Investment in the country’s legal minds pays off: in 2017, LAW FOR ALL was named Best Legal Team at the prestigious African Legal Awards in 2017.
The Innovative ‘FirmBooster’ Initiative
It’s a fact that the legal industry remains untransformed and white-dominated, so in 2016, LAW FOR ALL launched its FirmBooster initiative with the aim of assisting small black firms with financial donations, mentorship and work referrals
The 5 -year plan for this initiative is to get the 107 big law firms in SA (firms with more than 10 attorneys) to ‘adopt’ smaller firms and aid them through the programme, which would assist in speeding up the transformation process in the fraternity.
The first two years of the project have been very successful: LAW FOR ALL received more than 150 applications, (even though the campaign was not marketed) and donated over R300 000 to these firms. The firms further enjoyed mentoring in practice management from legal executives at LAW FOR ALL as well as assistance with their marketing efforts.
Embracing The Future of Technology
LAW FOR ALL continually looks for new opportunities to help make the law affordable and accessible. Fact is, the vast majority of South Africans cannot afford the many unnecessary costs added by practitioners in legal proceedings. To bridge this, LAW FOR ALL is innovating a new tech system through which South Africans will be able to access the law with less financial implications.
LAW FOR ALL has designed a Customer Relationship System (CRM) that is being enhanced by artificial intelligence to deliver accessible justice by 2020. The system will be presented to its Network of firms to assist in taking out the mundane tasks of legal service, from research, simple drafting and taxing of accounts to ensure they can focus on the true aspects of the law. The legal advice component will be made available to the public through a website and application that would deliver legal advice in natural language, as well as prepare documents and templates that could help solve less complex matters, without having to carry the burden of extra practitioner costs.
Automating In-House Legal Processes
At LAW FOR ALL, legal cases come into the legal advice centre via call, office consultation with clients or online platforms. These cases are dealt with by legal advisors who take the client’s instruction and present initial advice and explain the law to the client. From here the cases are referred to mediation to try and settle the matter out of court. With the adoption of AI, using the pre-processed advice given and instruction text from the historic data in the CRM system, a deep neural model was trained to map specific client instructions with identified document templates found in historical data. The model has now been trained to predict a confidence score for a specific template to be assigned to a new case on the basis of information captured during advice and instruction phase. Ultimately, this saves legal experts from spending unnecessary time on mundane tasks and allows them to engage more with clients and focus on mediation matters or more serious legal interventions.
So far, 25% of cases have been found to be resolved by automatic advice and document generation, which enables LAW FOR ALL to focus on the remaining 75% to enhance clients’ experience of legal service and get justice served more efficiently.
In 2019, further developments will be built in, before it is deployed to LAW FOR ALL’s Network of firms, after which it will be launched publicly.
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