Laura Keily, Founder and Managing Director of Immediation
It’s true that not all lawyers are the same and my experience in the field has been particularly unique. I’ve spent 12 years as a top-tier corporate and transactional lawyer (both in Melbourne and London), as a company director, In-house Counsel and as a business adviser for blue-chip clients, before becoming a commercial barrister in Melbourne in 2013.
Coming from the ‘win-win’ background of doing deals, and moving into the litigation environment, I was blown away by how difficult, expensive and impenetrable the current process was for so many clients.
If my time and my unique career path have taught me anything, it’s this: the legal system, as it stands, is out of reach for many people and businesses. Often it’s not commercially viable and it could be much better. It’s not the fault of the courts – the court system was not built for the scale, volume and complexity that we currently experience. The courts are trying to do their best to innovate and keep on top of it. But in the meantime, what do we do? Justice that cannot be afforded is not access to justice at all. In my view, this undermines the rule of law because as citizens we need to be able to turn to the court when we really need it. This is an issue that impacts everyone.
Our legal system is complex, lengthy and expensive. Our courts and the judges who preside over them are often overburdened, particularly in some areas like family law. It’s an old system regimented by ancient rules and processes. These rules and processes have an important place in ensuring that cases before the court are dealt with correctly. But the process is not scalable and although courts make every endeavour to speed up processes and create efficiencies, the rules and processes can be an impediment. That unfortunately means that despite our best efforts, justice is not always achieved because the delays and cost make it so difficult for many.
These are the facts:
- On average, $US1.7million is spent on disputes per $US1billion of revenue; a figure that is only expected to rise further;
- Typically, it can cost $10,000 just to open a solicitors’ file, while the minimum legal fee for a small contested matter is likely to be around $50,000;
- Small businesses can spend around $130,000 on resolving a dispute;
- And, delays in court proceedings have been linked directly to societal problems.
Each and every day people and businesses struggle not only obtain legal solutions at a reasonable price, but to resolve their issues in a manner that preserves their business or personal relationship for the future. Wearied by the process, many give up or settle without receiving the settlement or outcome they deserve – an outcome that sees them spending more on legal fees than the claim itself.
None of this is news, and it has been lamented for decades. But there is an opportunity here to make things better. Our legal system is ripe for innovation and we live in exciting times. With the power of the cloud at our fingertips, there is no better time for digital transformation than right now!
I knew from my business background that there had to be a better way to handle dispute resolution; one that allowed for technology and innovation to play a greater role. One that facilitated compromise and enabled early deal-making to resolve disputes rather than fostering aggressive positional battles.
That is why I created Immediation.
Despite few industries proving themselves to be as stubbornly immune to disruption as the legal industry, things are changing. Artificial Intelligence and technology are fast becoming central to the future of legal practice and dispute resolution. Along with some of the best developers in the world, we created a technology platform – we believe the first of its kind globally – that makes it quicker, easier and more affordable to resolve commercial disputes of any size and complexity. The entire process happens online.
The platform provides new ecosystem – a framework to enable disputing parties to submit their side of a dispute online and upload material evidence. Using bespoke workflows, parties work through disputes in a sensible, logical format in plain language focussed on reaching a commercial outcome that works for everyone. We then match the parties with an independent and impartial neutral party – one of our unique Panel of 90 incredibly experienced legal experts – to provide a dispute resolution service online that suits the parties’ needs. It can be either facilitative, evaluative or determinative.
For the facilitated negotiation process called mediation, a customised video-conference tool is used to mimic a physical mediation centre. Using the video conference tool which is the subject of a provisional patent application, the mediator controls proceedings, enabling parties to convene in plenary session or in caucus with their lawyer.
Quite simply; the Immediation platform cuts years of court processes down to just days or weeks, enables parties to share the costs and ensures that the fees for the dispute resolution service are proportional to the value of the dispute. Importantly, parties can participate from anywhere in the world. There is no need to keep flying around the world to resolve disputes – which is not only efficient but good for the environment.
Online Dispute Resolution, while beneficial for many, will not be an appropriate avenue of solution for all disputes. The aim of Immediation is to provide an alternative avenue for dispute resolution. We were delighted to receive an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant from the Federal Government based on the national benefits of Immediation to the court system. Our platform can help unclog the court system and help clear out the cases that quite simply don’t need to wait 6-12 months for a trial date. If we can help clear the way for cases that actually require the platinum service of the court to resolve, we can transform the industry as a whole and improve access to justice for everyone.
Read more about Laura Keily, the Founder of Immediation.