An English law firm yesterday launched a home-grown online documents service that it claimed is the first product with the potential to rival those from the US legal document giants Rocket Lawyer and Legal Zoom.
Six-partner Peterborough and London-based Taylor Rose said its e-commerce platform  was the first fully automated and seamless document generation product to have been produced in-house by a UK-based law firm.
It said the refinement of the online service, which offers 30 different products charged on a pay-as-you-go basis – typically costing between £5 and £45 – was only rivalled by the US-based companies but was entirely generated by English solicitors, which it said gave it an “edge” over its US rivals; Rocket Lawyer launched in the UK in late 2012, while we revealed that LegalZoom soft-launched  last month.
Partner Adrian Jaggard told Legal Futures: “Even though these services do fall outside, generally, the scope of reserved legal activities, we think there is a lot to be said for these sorts of services being offered by a regulated law firm as opposed to other providers.”
He observed that competition for the online documents market was fierce because the American experience had shown great potential for growth and it was an area of the internet that had not been fully exploited for legal services in the UK. “We do understand that it is a bit of a race; there is definitely going to a bit of a ‘land grab’ mentality over the next few years.”
He said: “Whilst online documents far from suit every legal requirement, they have a hugely important place in routine matters and deliver solutions very quickly and economically. As more consumers use online solutions with satisfaction, their popularity will explode in the UK as it has done in the US.”
Mr Jaggard said the Taylor Rose Online  service is so fully automated that it takes payment online, questions are asked online by “intuitive questions streams that all change according to the answers given to the previous questions”, and once the document is completed, it is “sent through for review by e-mail immediately”.
A “small in-house team” had developed the online documents process. The solicitors had generated the legal content and its IT developers wrote the code. The firm planned to deliver 150 document products by the end of the year.
The firm launched an online will service in early 2013, via its websites willdrafter.org.uk and trl-online-wills.co.uk. The ventures kickstarted the firm’s interest in delivering online products. A market analysis it carried out at the time “identified further opportunities in online legal services”.
Taylor Rose claimed to be “growing at 40%+ a year”, fuelled by success from business-to-business marketing and “offering process-driven services in new ways”. The biggest area of growth has been in residential property. It said: “Our processes in this area are genuinely innovative, using technology extensively to improve our customer experience.”
The firm is linked to the well-known costs practice Jaggards.