Peter Frankl (PF) interviews Seamus Byrne (SB)
PF: You are the founder of LawAnswers and now LawTap. Can you tell us first about LawAnswers? When did it start? How has it grown and who are the people providing the answers?
SB: LawAnswers.com.au started as an experiment with me and my lawyer wife, Georgia, in April 2014. We simply wanted to help Australians to better understand the law. In the past two years, LawAnswers has grown organically to:
- 10,000+ LawAnswers members.
- 7,000+ popular legal questions asked and answered by the LawAnswers community.
- 150,000+ website page views in the past month.
It has been really encouraging to see lawyers, law students and non-lawyers all contributing to popular legal questions.
PF: Is there an overlap between LawAnswers and LawTap? What need is LawTap seeking to fulfill?
SB: LawAnswers is the legal Q&A forum and blog that serves as a learning resource and community for Australians to better understand the law.
LawTap is the online legal booking engine and lawyer directory that connects clients with lawyers, making it easy to find a lawyer and book online instantly to get legal advice anywhere, any time.
If visitors to LawAnswers have the means and need to engage a lawyer, they are directed to LawTap.
PF: How does LawTap work?
SB: LawTap is an online booking engine for lawyers, similar to HealthEngine and ZocDoc for doctors.
A lawyer can join LawTap in under 10 minutes and then offer an instant Booking Button on their website and email signature as well as a LawTap Lawyer Profile customised to their practice (for example, phone or Skype calls, meetings at their office, client visits, existing clients only) all seamlessly integrated with popular calendar systems.
PF: What benefits does it offer to clients and to lawyers?
- Lawyers can attract and convert new clients instantly, as well as increase repeat bookings from existing clients.
- Lawyers have a LawTap Lawyer Profile and an online Booking Button for their own website that securely integrates with their calendar.
- Clients can find a nearby lawyer who is right for their legal needs and also book online at a time that suits them.
- Both lawyers and clients receive instant confirmation (subject to any conflict check requirements) and automated booking reminders.
PF: Are you a lawyer or a technologist?
SB: I see myself as a lawyer who is passionate about using technology to make the law easier to access for consumers and as a tool for lawyers to grow and optimise their law firm businesses.
PF: You started a technology company which you sold to a NYSE multinational company. Can you tell us a little about that?
SB: Yes, EasyDataMaps (now known as Iron Mountain Information Maps) was a software business that I started in mid-2010. Post GFC, many businesses were working through corporate restructuring, turnaround processes and/or involved in litigation. As part of these processes, businesses must quickly identify ‘what data do we have?’, ‘where is the data?’, ‘who is responsible for the data?’ and ‘what retention/destruction obligations apply to the data?’. This process was traditionally performed by interviewing key custodians (e.g. IT, records management, etc.) and compiling unwieldy spreadsheets. EasyDataMaps was unique because it was an easy-to-use web-based SaaS product that solved this problem.
EasyDataMaps continued to grow, won awards in the USA (including ARMA 2014 Best New Product and Legaltech Innovation Awards Best Knowledge Management Software Finalist) and was acquired by Iron Mountain in mid-2015. I wasn’t looking to sell, but the opportunity presented itself for EasyDataMaps to go to a good home where it can help even more legal departments easily identify potentially relevant information and respond to litigation and regulatory investigations.
PF: You also had a career in e-discovery. Is that still an area of interest for you?
SB: Yes, I was fortunate to have a great career in e-discovery (electronic discovery) both as a computer forensic/e-discovery expert as well as creating software to make e-discovery in litigation more efficient. In my early career as a lawyer, I couldn’t have picked a better area of specialisation. I got to combine law and technology and help individuals, businesses and the courts, often in high-stress and time-sensitive situations, using electronic evidence.
Following the sale of EasyDataMaps, I still keep up to date with e-discovery developments, but have shifted focus to what I believe are larger problems to solve in the legal industry.
PF: Back to LawTap? How can lawyers get involved in LawTap?
PF: Seamus, thank you very much. These services should be of great interest to lawyers.