With the majority of small businesses being priced out of legal action, the need for a stable intermediary in civil justice cases has never been higher. Enter Amiqus – a company linking open data and high-tech solutions with legal experts to provide help to these businesses and restore a level playing field for all.
CEO Callum Murray is here to talk us through the in’s and out’s of high-tech civil justice.
Amiqus CEO Callum Murray (left) takes home Pitch of the Day and Audience’s Choice at EIE17.
Q – Hi Callum - Amiqus “offers a secure, fast and reliable service to legal experts and clients” – tell us more about how you’re disrupting the industry?
A –The Amiqus team was brought together by shared values and purpose. We’re on a mission to improve access to civil justice. Our initial focus is providing the legal market with tools that are affordable and accessible and so our first product Amiqus ID handles anti-money laundering and compliance checks for regulated professionals. Essentially, it turns hours of paper-based admin into minutes of secure online compliance, which makes it easier for lawyers to take on new clients and less burdensome for clients to gain a legal help. With support from The Datalab, we’ve also built a basic prototype to help consumers understand the links between legislation, case law and triage legal problems. Currently it’s in private beta.
Q – How do you see ‘Legaltech’ evolving over the next 5 years in the UK, and overseas?
A – We don’t think technology is going to replace lawyers in the next 5 years, or anytime soon, but it could perform many routine research tasks that would free lawyers up to focus on more complex legal work. Advances in language processing can potentially take away many of the burdens of dealing with the law - from expedited research to case outcome prediction.
As for the legal sector as a whole, a joint report from the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chief Justice and the Senior President of Tribunals last year set out their £1 billion vision for changes that would see all cases start online and some cases completed entirely online. But, currently, almost all of the UK’s judgement data and court listings sit behind paywalls, or are inaccessible due to licensing and indexing regulations, which presents a problem. With who and how [as a country] we choose to build our online court infrastructure will determine where its data sits and who has access to it. The question is, do we let tradition dictate how that infrastructure should work, or do we design infrastructure to elevate the legal process instead?
Amiqus is among the first startups to sign up to the EDGE Pledge with Sir Tom Hunter.
Q – Amiqus and Qpal both secured sizeable Scottish Edge funding in December 2016, how have things grown for you since then?
A - We’ve doubled the size of our team, brought new clients on board and we’re among the first alumni to sign the EDGE pledge. Now we’re on the road to a second round of funding. The win at Scottish EDGE gave us a boost in momentum at the right time and we’ve continued to work hard and make the most of every opportunity ever since.
Organisations like Scottish EDGE, the cannily-named Entrepreneurial Scotland and FutureX are a significant force in ‘driving Scotland to become the most entrepreneurial society in the world’, but the openness and willingness to learn among the entrepreneurial community also plays a big role in making Scotland a magnetic place for young entrepreneurs to set up and an increasingly exciting prospect for tech investment.
Q – Tell us more about your experiences starting up in the Scottish ecosystem. Also, where should early stage tech companies turn to for support in Scotland?
A – You don’t have to go far to get a sense that entrepreneurs feel Scotland’s tech scene has reached a tipping point. Last autumn intelligentPOS merged with iZettle doubling their headcount. Snap40 closed Scotland’s largest seed round for over a decade. Freeagent raised over £10 million from the Alternative Investment Market and the newly formed Seed Haus accelerator is now providing pre-seed funding for market-driven startups, as well as a range of global mentorship, network access and support through their partners worth over £100,000.
The advantage of starting your tech business in a small capital city like Edinburgh is that you’re closer to centres of government, investment, academia and potential customers than your counterparts in London, New York or Beijing. With so many opportunities to research and test out their ideas in the central belt, friendships are quickly formed among entrepreneurs who pitch to the same competitions, take part in the same accelerator programmes and share the same co-working spaces.
Scottish entrepreneurs are organised, swift to pass on information and keen to see each other succeed, whether that means warm introductions, help to avoid common pitfalls.
Q – How does a company with access and storage of sensitive information build up client trust so quickly?
A – Word of mouth from satisfied clients helps a lot. We build trust through the quality of our product and through transparency, but mainly clients respond to our values and the calibre of people that have been attracted to our mission, such as our Chairman Sir Sandy Crombie.
Once you have it trust isn’t something to be squandered. Anyone can provide secure software, but our values mean that we also ensure real privacy for our customers. For example, we make it clear to our clients that we won’t sell their data to third parties and we use our blog, not for scare tactics, but to provide helpful information about anti-money laundering requirements.
Another thing that builds trust is that people see we’re not in this for a quick exit. Ultimately, Amiqus ID is the first in a long line of tools we plan to build to improve access to civil justice.
Q – With varying laws and regulations all over the world, how are Amiqus planning to scale globally?
A – The beauty of what we’ve built is that you basically just need to change the datasets to move into a different market. We’re focused on the UK for now, but our ambitions are only limited to what we can build. So far what we’ve achieved is very scalable across sectors and geographical locations.
Callum Murray is taking part in a 200 mile ocean race to raise awareness about HPV-related cancers. You can follow the journey and donate to help end 5% of cancers.
High-tech solutions and legal practice go hand-in-hand these days – and Amiqus intend to take it to the next level. You can check out their services here – and follow the above links to Callum’s admirable cause and below for Amiqus' social media handles!