Ideas and Validation September 16, 2020

All tech business legal knowledge

emarchbanks

Greetings,

I'm a lawyer and a developer. I've spent the last 6 years practicing law full time but am starting to lean more into building things. I've built tools for my law firm and am currently working on software for flight training.

I am toying with the idea of making a legal knowledge resource that is structured similar to API documentation. It would be different from a blog in that it would be organized by topics/categories and every page would have general info as to how to use and best practices for desired outcomes and common use cases. All pages would be created and structured for practical start-up and tech business legal issues. Obviously pages for things like entity formation, privacy policies, terms of use, etc. Also categories like accepting payments online, no-code platform intellectual property, etc. I'm also interested in evolving the resource to include legal-tech solutions connected to each category (like clerky.com for Delaware corp filings).

I am working on a few projects on top of still practicing some law. This is a resource I'm interested in making for the community. However, I'd only like to commit the effort if it seems like this is something people actually think would be helpful. Do you want this? Any feedback is appreciated.

Rock on,

  1. 3

    Fun fact, in my old job I built an on-demand legal advice service, I don't want this coming back to me so I will spell it backwards, LOL: krapslagel. The company marketed it heavily but it never took off. For example price point was an issue. Personally I feel there was a disconnect between the service offering and what the user was looking for.

    Anecdotal, but when I need advice I google for it. I have to be cautious with this though because sometimes things do not apply because of location or other random detail. But this has been sufficient so far to include the time we formed our company, and we have not yet needed paid legal services. If I did, I would find a local lawyer and establish a continuous relationship with them and obviously expect this to be a premium service. I am pointing this out because this is my current solution and has not been a pain point to my indiehacker pursuits so far. Though perhaps you have a different target in mind.

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    Pleasure to connect! I read your post and thought your concept looked interesting. I am focused on the business & financial strategy / cap raising side. Happy to chat if you're running into any needs in those areas! [email protected]

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    There are literally thousands of different regions/states/cantons/provinces/counties/countries with their own legal rules. One size fits all never works, you may be able to sell the idea but you should know that enforcing anything that's used from your site may be unenforceable in any given place. Tough sell in my opinion unless you limit your market.

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      Thanks for the thoughts, antarctican. It's definitely a fair point and a constant issue for any legal-tech product. What I have in mind for a legal information tool structured as an API document would be general. Even though states have their own laws in the U.S. there are still generally universal principles. As you get higher in the stack the issues get fewer and fewer. I have something in mind that would be more of an issue spotter or "risk barometer." Someone could answer if there are entire categories of compliance they haven't considered. As far as individual products, there are pockets where a lot of value can be provided. I built a tool that screens people for eligibility for hospital financial assistance and assists them through the process. It's implemented by a non-profit called Dollar For. Even though there are some applicable state laws, the tool is based on federal tax laws that apply to every hospital in the country. So the free tool would be very broad and general, but any products would probably be hyper-niche.

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      Absolutely right. But regarding US state laws, four states combined are 1/3 of the population at 110MM+, beating the 80/20 rule :-)

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        The US is what, 2% of the world population? That's what I mean, even if you accomplish that, your market is still limited.

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          Well, if you want to be snarky like that, call me when you get 2% of the world's population as your customers and I'll congratulate you for apparently wasting your time.

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            I'm sorry that you feel that way I'm not trying to be snarky. I am trying to be helpful. Take it as you will.

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              The US is what, 2% of the world population? That's what I mean, even if you accomplish that, your market is still limited.

              I re-read the exchange a few times. I took this to mean that you're implying having access to 2% of the world market is worthless. If you meant the other way, as in 2% of the world market is enough, then my apologies.

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                Okay now I see where you're coming from. Communication breakdown, probably my fault for not expanding on my thoughts. I wasn't saying "limited" = "worthless".

                My point was, thinking of a market as 2% of world population as limited, are there opportunities that you can take advantage of that would give you access to the other 98%? It was just a comment that hopefully might lead you to other markets. Maybe turn on some creative lights. There's nothing wrong with going after the 2% which would definitely pay the bills. Finding a way into the greater market could lead to expanded opportunities.

                Hope this clears it up a bit better! Note to self to improve my communications!

                kind regards

  4. 1

    This sounds amazing! I like the idea of structuring it like an API :)
    Though the most challenging question for me always remains, for which topics at which point it is better to start to contact a lawyer and when it is "enough" to educate yourself...

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      My lawyer answer is, and always is...it depends.

  5. 1

    Great idea, there's a legaltech project that I take off the back burner, do some work on it, and then put it back on LOL. I believe there's an opportunity for productized services in legal and there's a (big) niche of lawyers I'm planning to go after as customers.
    But I'm working full-time on my immigration-related products again.
    Would like to connect and chat sometime.
    blake at emigro dot io

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      Will shoot you a message. I took a run at a two-sided marketplace for productized legal services and couldn't get it off the ground. Lot of opportunity, but a very unique market. I learned a lot in my first attempt.

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        Getting to the email now :-)

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    I think it would be very helpful. Just the other day, I bookmarked this link https://feross.org/form-california-llc that I came across in hacker news since I'm in California. I paid a lawyer for my last CA LLC. This time I'm thinking of doing it myself.

    Are you thinking about this as a free or paid product?

    1. 1

      Thanks for the feedback. I'm thinking it would be free. There is only so much value a resource like this could provide given what others point out in comments below such as differing jurisdictions. If the traffic to the site was reasonable I would probably try to monetize it by building paid legal-tech tools to solve very specific issues.

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        Cool. If you decide to build it, ping me I will definitely check it out.

        Topics I'd be interested in (some of these are law, some go into tax/accounting)

        • LLC formation and requirements (in California for me)
        • Establishing trademarks (maybe copyright/IP protection in general)
        • State sales tax requirements for on-line businesses in light of Wayfair ruling
        • Privacy policy, terms of service, GDPR, CCPA, cookie "laws", etc.
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          Also, I bet if this was successful you could make money by using the free content as a gateway to sell referrals to lawyers for those who need more legal help that they are comfortable doing on their own.

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            To be honest, when it comes to things like legal/finance/hr/accounting, sometimes it's hard for me to tell whether it's better to just do something myself, or pay the money to an expert or a service.

  7. 1

    100% yes. This sounds amazing.

    Thus far the best resource I've found is Stripe Atlas docs. Google results are a cesspool of lead magnets, content sites and listicle crap.

    I have a finance background and it is another field where can be hard to toe the line between here are the options and I'm giving advice. So if you can find that balance where you can actually outline options without every answer being "talk to a lawyer" it would be great.

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    The internet desperately needs varying niches of well curated and written content, imho.

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