After five months of development, Legal Linda, an artificial intelligence tool for law firms, is about to hit the Tampa Bay market.
The chat software engages with prospective law firm clients via the law firm’s website, text messages and social media. It has the ability to conduct some redundant tasks for attorneys, so they can focus on their casework, said Anthony Powell II, founder and CEO of Legal Linda.
“Our vision is to be the digital equivalent of what a traditional legal assistant is today,” Powell said during a presentation at 1 Million Cups St. Petersburg.
Artificial intelligence, or the science of teaching computers to learn, reason and communicate as opposed to being programmed, is one of the hottest tech trends today, transforming almost every industry. That includes the legal profession, where in most cases, AI augments what humans do, while freeing them up to take on high-level tasks such as advising clients, negotiating deals and appearing in court, according to a recent report in Forbes.
Legal Linda offers a range of services, from providing information about pricing, practice areas and attorney backgrounds, to scheduling appointments and conducting pre-screening intake, Powell said.
The software reached minimum viable product status in February. Until then, Powell worked with a small group of law firms and attorneys to fine-tune the product. “We’re now trying to get some local momentum and some early customers in Tampa St. Petersburg,” he said.
There’s a big need for efficiency in the legal community, said Powell, a recent George Washington University graduate with a master’s degree in information technology consulting.
“Nine out of 10 consumers expect businesses to respond in less than 10 minutes. Unfortunately, if you are reaching out to a law firm, you can throw that expectation out the window,” Powell said. “Forty-two percent of law firms won’t respond to a contact form filled out on their own web site for at least three days, which causes law firms to lose customers, lose cases and lose money.”
He worked with a developer who has a background in artificial intelligence to create the software. It’s built on Google’s natural language processing tool, the same tool that Siri uses. While that makes the barrier to entry into the field of AI for legal assistance low, Powell said, most of the competition currently is human live chat agents.
Legal Linda is a faster and cheaper alternative, he said.
For human live chat agents, there’s an average wait time of two-minutes-45-seconds, while Legal Linda is instantaneous.
Human live chat agents typically charge $35 per lead on top of a flat fee per month, while Legal Linda, with a subscription-based model, has a setup fee and a $199 per month charge.
The software increases the probability of converting a prospect into a customer by 637 percent, Powell said.
It’s geared to plaintiff firms with one to 15 attorneys, especially those that aggressively advertise and send traffic to their websites. “Cases are the lifeline of their business,” Powell said.
Do people with sensitive legal issues really want to engage with a chat bot, a skeptical audience member at 1 Million Cups asked Powell. Yes, he said, citing statistics that show 79 percent of consumers prefer to engage with chat and 90 percent prefer to engage with chat if they are reaching out for the first time.
“The proliferation of messaging apps have allowed us to be more comfortable using chat communications to have intimate discussions. It’s increasingly more of the norm to have important discussions via chat,” Powell said.
The software can be individualized for each law firm. Legal Linda tries to make the conversations “human-like,” but also treads carefully so it doesn’t mislead users into thinking they are talking to a human, Powell said.
Legal Linda has a team of three people — Powell, his developer and an intern. Powell bootstrapped the company initially but he recently received a small angel investment, which allowed him to allocate more funds towards branding, marketing and speeding up development. He’s not currently seeking any more outside funding.