Tell us a little bit about your new product and how it works
The product is called “ALPhalex”. It is an innovative go-to business app that provides easy access to legal information and basic commercial agreement templates.
ALPhalex has both mobile and web interfaces with more emphasis on the mobile app which brings the app closer to the user. The mobile app is available on Google Playstore for Android users and Appstore for iOS users.
Users can sign up and get instant access to a range of solutions for issues such as starting a small business, updating company records, preparing simple agreements or just concise answers to some questions.
Why did you create it – to fill a particular gap in the market or as an extension of your legal services offer?
A little bit of both. We found that most start ups and small-medium business operators, such as tech start ups, landlords, vendors etc. are a bit wary of lawyers. Additonally, the world has evolved with virtually everything now available and obtainable online. So, we felt that the time was right for legal services to catch up to the tech space and what better way to do so than to launch an app where everyone can get answers to some frequently asked questions and have a guide to non-complex transaction documents, which nevertheless require some legal structure and guidance.
What is the greatest challenge you faced in creating it and how have you managed that?
The main challenge was finding a balance between providing comprehensive assistance, without making it too complicated and legalistic and staying within the rules of professional conduct.
ALP Nigeria is part of a wider network of African law firms, is the intention for Alphalex to become a service that is available in those other jurisdictions outside Nigeria?
That should be possible further down the line, but for now, our main focus is Nigeria.The information is Nigeria specific and targeted at Nigerians at home and in the diaspora.
There is a general perception (even by lawyers) that law is strictly rooted in tradition and this is not helped by the fact that we are subject to rules that have not been updated to accommodate the technological evolution of the global marketplace. COVID-19 has shown how the legal space needs to ramp up its access to and use of technology, such as allowing virtual hearings, electronic filings and so on.
At ALP, we are determined to break from the norm and approach the future innovatively and create value for our clients and wider business community.
What regulatory and legislative changes, if any, are required to facilitate greater use of technology by the legal sector for themselves and their clients? How best can lawyers influence and shape that environment?
There needs to be a shift in our thinking and the rules and regulations that guide the profession. Lawyers as a whole must take a critical look at how the legal sector can remain relevant in an ever changing world and seek out collaboration with other professionals. Professional bodies such as the Nigerian Bar Association should (and have been) be the vanguard for innovation and are quite active in pushing for legislative and regulatory reform. The Section on Business Law’s annual conference scheduled to hold in July 2021 has the timely theme of Retooling Business for Change: Leveraging the Tech Explosion.
What do you think is the main thing that can facilitate the growth of law tech in Africa?
Relaxation of the restrictions on advertisement of legal services primarily.
Any other comments
We are happy to have finally launched the ALPhalex app and hope that it proves to be a useful tool for small businesses in Nigeria.
ALP Nigeria is a leading corporate commercial law firm based in Lagos, Nigeria delivering the very best of African legal and advisory services. ALP is also a member of the African Law & Tech Network.