Matt Dunn spoke with Jake Gardiner, the Legal Manager of Queensland law firm Claimify about being Australia’s first online personal injury claim platform and the process of developing a new online legal business model.
What is the Claimify service and how does it operate?
Claimify is an online legal platform which utilises technology to simplify and streamline legal claims. Given the increased talk of AI and other emerging technologies transforming the legal industry, it was important for us to stay ahead of the curve of digital disruption. We saw it as an opportunity to develop a platform that improved operational efficiency and better serve client needs.
We recognised that people want options and flexibility. Whereas once you needed to meet with a bank manager to discuss your banking options, for example; you can now take to your laptop or tablet and in a short timeframe answer questions online, submit documents electronically and receive clear, concise advice and options in a short timeframe. All from the comfort of your couch. Claimify seeks to provide the same kind of offering to a claimant, who may have difficulty attending an office owing to their work, injury or other commitments.
We initially offered end-to-end services for Queensland motor vehicle injury claims, however have recently expanded our practise to include total and permanent disablement (TPD) claims.
The process incorporates claim automation, with most of the essential information gathered from an initial online self-serve questionnaire that is completed by the client. From there, we are able to assess the prospects of the claim and provide preliminary advice. Transparency throughout the claim process is at the forefront of Claimify’s values with clients invited to follow the progress of their claim in real-time via an interactive client portal. This portal also allows the client to share documents and information at any time they choose. Electronic execution of documents is also featured.
What was the problem you were trying to solve with Claimify?
We recognised that there was a gap in accessing justice for claimants who are unable to afford advance payment of legal fees, or whose smaller entitlements may be uneconomical for traditional law firms to manage.
Claimify removes economic barriers by providing a speculative fixed-fee retainer to clients; minimising costs by increasing cooperation between the legal team and the client through utilisation of document management systems and a secure client portal. As an online platform, we are also able to provide legal solutions that are widely accessible for people who face geographical or lifestyle barriers. Claimify is a convenient alternative for people located rurally who would otherwise be required to commute long distances. Similarly, those that are time poor are able to run their claim in their own time.
Pleasingly, we have now been able to complete quite a number of claims end-to-end, with all clients having shared positive feedback of their experience.
What is the most innovative aspect of Claimify?
The most innovative aspect of Claimify is definitely the ability to capture, analyse and repurpose relevant data in order to allow for automation of documents – making the claims process quicker and simpler.
The ability to share documents and information electronically with clients via the secure portal also ensures strong client service, whilst minimising operating costs and thereby providing an affordable legal offering.
Similarly, the implementation of auto-communications to clients and other stakeholders periodically ensures that they are kept abreast of claim developments and relevant next steps.
How have you expanded or refined the service as you have piloted it?
Like all start-ups, we learn best from experience.
Since launching we have refined our self-serve questionnaires to simplify and accelerate the fact-finding process. We have introduced targeted questions to ensure that clients are providing all of the required information as early in the process as possible. One of the pillars of Claimify is to provide expedited turnarounds for clients; the quality of the information is vital to allow us to meet our set timeframes.
To ensure the best client experience, we have also revised some of our automated communications, making them as simple and client friendly as we can.
How does it differ from the traditional legal service model? Is Claimify meant to replace traditional legal practice or augment it?
We are finding that the legal industry does not have to be a ‘one size fits all’ proposal – you can have both the traditional legal service model and introduce new technologies to provide the consumer with options.
Claimify operates as a virtual legal practice, and as such, the process is more independent and accessible. This is appealing and convenient for those who are able to navigate and engage online. Whilst Claimify does offer a tailored user experience, and has been proven to fit the requirements of a wide ranging demographic, there will always be clients who prefer the personal and face-to-face aspects of the traditional model.
Claimify also provides a solution to those with smaller entitlements, who would historically be turned away by many firms on account of economic barriers; ensuring that justice is accessible to more members of the public.
How was working in a multi-disciplinary team to build the relevant technology and service? Were there any learnings from that experience?
First and foremost – we quickly came to learn that the ‘language’ of an IT expert, data scientist, project manager, marketing expert and legal professional can get lost in translation to some degree. We needed to never assume that the recipient understands the other’s technical language. In saying that, I definitely acquired knowledge and appreciation for the work of our dedicated non-legal partners who worked tirelessly to bring Claimify to life.
Planning is key. Beginning with the end in mind. Breaking down such a large project and assigning and reviewing tasks, unit testing and seeking out feedback was also important.
It is inspiring to see what a multi-disciplinary team can achieve when they work together to achieve a common objective.
As a legal innovator, what are some of the biggest challenges you see for the legal profession in developing innovative new ways to provide legal services?
A significant challenge is getting the wider profession to embrace innovation.
There is an element of risk in introducing new technologies that disrupt the status quo. The traditional legal model is tried and tested, so a lot of firms question why fix something that isn’t broken. While traditional legal practise is enduring, adopting new technologies can lead to valuable opportunities – for the client and the firm.
Data integrity and protection is another key consideration. Securing information shared online is extremely important in an online environment. Fortunately we have great resources on this front, to ensure information is kept secure and confidential.
We concede that the transition from the traditional consultative model to an online collaborative model has required some adjustments, however support from leaders is the key to success. The leaders of Claimify’s parent company, Shine Justice Ltd are invested in refining and growing Claimify because they understand the positive impact innovation and technology is having on the delivery of services, and are as equally committed to understanding the technology.
What next for Claimify? Are there any other areas you are targeting?
It is inspiring to see innovation in various areas of legal practise. The legal landscape is changing and adapting to the market, especially in the midst of a pandemic.
In the short-term we have no firm plans to expand our current areas of practice. But it’s only a matter of time.
Jake Gardiner is the Legal Manager of Claimify, Australia’s first online personal injury claim platform. Jake joined Claimify and its parent Shine Corporate Ltd in 2019 with more than a decade’s experience in plaintiff-focused litigation. Alongside his work launching and running Claimify, Jake is the Practice Leader of Shine Lawyers’ Brisbane Abuse Law practice. His work across traditional and online compensation claims is motivated by a desire to ensure justice is available to all, regardless of financial or personal circumstance.