Some 13 years ago, somebody did something new with something very old. A start-up called Netvokat wanted to rethink law: online, cheaper and faster.
Online law – is the idea really that fanciful? (Photo: Colourbox)
Law had never looked like this before. Until then, it had actually looked quite the opposite: manual, expensive and slow.
Netvokat got off to a great start, landing Microsoft as its first big customer. Everybody was happy, it seemed. Not quite though, it turned out.
The threat of innovation
The Danish law society (Advokatsamfundet) promptly reported Netvokat to the police. What was the felony you might ask? Abuse of the title ‘advokat’ (lawyer).
The same dynamic is at play in a number of other areas ‘threatened’ by innovation. The hotel industry claims that Airbnb is illegal. The taxi industry claims that Drivr is illegal. Banks claim that Spiir is illegal.
Return to the status quo
We all know that monopolies care more about protecting their own members from competition than anything else. However, in the case of Netvokat the resemblance of ‘netvokat’ and ‘advokat’ was a handy excuse.
Eventually, Netvokat and the founders were acquitted of all charges. However, it was too late, since the commotion had killed the company in the meantime.
After Netvokat’s death, law returned to its former status quo: manual, expensive and slow.
Be prepared to fight
For 13 years, law did not evolve. No cheaper, faster and easier. I guess everybody was happy. Apart from the customers. And me. Because I really wanted law to evolve. So much so that I decided to start Qontra. Qontra picks up the legacy of Netvokat and aims to improve law on a massive scale.
I learned a lesson from Netvokat: if you want to challenge the status quo, the status quo will challenge you back. In surprisingly creative ways. Be prepared to fight.
And be prepared to get reported to the police.