App aims to be Uber for legal and accountancy services

Simon Astill

Astill: “what is unique is putting all of this together”

A solicitor has launched an app which he hopes will be the equivalent of taxi service Uber for legal and accountancy advice by allowing consumers to find, connect with and later review their advisers.

Simon Astill was managing partner of Leicestershire firm Harvey Ingram before it merged with Shakespeares in 2012, where he was director of risk.

“There is nothing here that has not been done before. What is unique is putting all of this together in an app,” he said.

“That is what Uber did. It took existing services and brought it all together into one app – search, review and payment”.

Mr Astill said ProAnnexUs aimed to provide “timely legal advice from people you can trust”. He said a Legal Services Board survey into unmet need among small and medium-sized businesses showed that access to advice was poor and instructing a lawyer was seen as too difficult, too time-consuming and too expensive.

“I’m a fairly passionate lawyer, but not so passionate about the way the law is being delivered. The law is not enough – it must be delivered the way the client needs and wants it.”

Mr Astill said benefits of the app were access to a peer-reviewed set of lists of professionals, instant messaging and the incorporation of a credit card payment system.

The app also includes a system of ID verification, which had turned out to be one of the biggest “pain points” for firms, and could be used for anti-money laundering purposes.

ProAnnexUs is currently free for users, but the aim is for it to be funded by the law and accountancy firms involved on a subscription basis, paying £35 per month or £330 per year.

The solicitorsaid 50 lawyers were offering their services through the app, along with a couple of accountants. However, he said that for the app to develop from the existing Beta version he needed a “critical mass” of professionals to be involved, who could cover the whole country.

The legal services covered by the app are commercial, property (residential and commercial), employment, family, personal injury, wills and probate, agency and notary.

Mr Astill said the accountancy services covered are audit, book-keeping, tax, payroll and others.

“The aim is simplicity, simplicity of interaction between lawyer and client, because that is what the client wants.”


    Readers Comments

  • James Rogers says:

    Not wanting to dampen anyone’s spirits but every new start-up in the world currently wants to be the ‘Uber of….’. This really doesn’t seem like anything other than yet another lawyer lead gen type business of which there are dozens.

  • Graham Laing says:

    In a world where most app purchasers struggle to fit the applications that they really do need on a 16gb iPhone – here is something else they could justify deleting some precious photos for.

    License it to Quality Solicitors members. There’s gold in them thar hills.

  • Simon Astill says:

    Hi James. thank you for your comments. The reference to Uber is to draw the analogy with how they achieved success. Rather than simply dealing with hailing or payment as a stand alone, they took the whole car ride from start to finish. The car ride still happens as it did before, it’s just now more convenient as it is controlled via smartphone. As you quite rightly point out the lead gen type business is legion and I have tried many of them while in private practice. The idea here is not to be simply lead gen, there is no referral for instance & I have included IM (more reliable on a phone than email), push notifications, card payments and ID verification and pulled it all together into a single app accessible via smartphone. The Uber reference is the pulling it together – start to finish – and hopefully you will see it goes beyond lead gen (of which I agree there are many). Try it out. You’d be most welcome.

  • Jason Doyle says:

    Having looked through the ProAnnexUs website, this seems nothing more than a directory / search engine with a few add ons !! The name is too complex and searching for it on ITunes or google play will be a nightmare
    Its easier for a consumer to search on google for professional services in a chosen location which is a tried and tested method. For apps to work properly in the professional services environment, they need to be fully integrated into the firms case management system or software

  • Simon Astill says:

    Hi Jason, thanks for your comments.The “add-ons” are targeted to hit very specific needs and reflect modern day working practices. So for instance, currently the time taken to engage can be both frustrating and lengthy for client and professional alike. ID verification, telephone tag and funds transfer all being separate events as examples and often different physical platforms. Bringing that together in a smartphone app is the concept which makes the whole process more convenient and speedy, = more attractive for irregular or first time buyers of professional services or heavy smartphone users. You make a very good point about integration with pms and cm systems. The app is designed for the buyers, and complexity of professional systems has not been deployed at the front end deliberately. If professional services can attract the currently unserviced market by harnessing latest technology then everybody wins I suggest, even if some internal working practices have to be reconsidered to operate in this marketplace. The challenge to professional services is are you prepared to think and operate differently to operate in a very fast moving market.

  • Graham Laing says:

    Your problem is exposure not functionality. There are over 1.5m apps on both Apple and Android. Kate Upton TV adverts aside – it’s impossible to cut through the noise.

    Then you have the issue of over-engineering as the above poster has rightly mentioned. People with a problem resort digitally to Google – they don’t hit the App Store.

    Then you still have the fundamental issues of purchasing a credence good on top.

  • Simon Astill says:

    Thanks for coming back Graham.

    Your comments are all sound and there are many other good and proper reasons why this won’t work. As a lawyer I can think of many more!

    However, if it represents the “way it should be” bringing business and professionals together across a convenient bridge then it is worth it.

    If the professional services sector want to be accept that the smartphone revolution has redefined the way many people operate, following banks, and many other “you’ll never see that on a phone” suppliers then I firmly believe that everybody wins. Being a good lawyer isn’t enough anymore – it is how you deliver that service that will make the difference.

  • Adetola says:

    Hi Simon,

    Going through the comment thread, may I ask what the experience on the App has been in the past two years.


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