Article by Pip Wilson, co-founder of amicable

woman in tech working on a laptop, onlineThe legal sector in the UK has been largely undisrupted by tech until recent years.

And whilst there’s been great strides recently, LawTech is still way behind other sectors like FinTech, FoodTech and HealthTech which have become booming areas of growth. Research from the Law Society shows that Investments into legal technology companies stand at just over $900million globally. The majority of Legal Tech companies serve business to business and in-house purposes for things like legal analysis, case and document management, but consumer facing legal technology companies, such as amicable, have started to gain rapid traction.

My co-founder and I were shocked at how little change and innovation had taken place to improve the divorce process for people. The legal system for separating in the UK is severely outdated. For years, the practice of hiring two separate divorce lawyers was the only option on the table. This route has also proven, too many times, to be financially and emotionally draining for couples, families and society as a whole. The blame game, the arduous meetings, the lengthy paperwork and paying individual lawyers all added up.

A different approach was needed; couples wanted a better way to divorce and separate that didn’t cost the earth of their subsequent relationship with each other. Our solution is amicable. amicable harnesses a unique combination of psychology (the all-important human touch) with the power of technology to take the sting out of separating.

Legal support is expensive and sadly for many people, simply unaffordable. By using technology, amicable has made  the cost of entry for customers manageable without skimping on the quality of service. Automation technology has reduced the cost to the customer and time spent on administrative tasks, this means our coaches are able to focus on guiding couples through the logistical and emotional journey of separating and transitioning from parents to co-parents.

Affordability

The financial implications of divorce are incredibly daunting. The archaic process of legal separation can add up – with couples spending up to £40,000 each to get divorced through the courts . Using technology can significantly reduce costs and easing the financial strain can alleviate anxiety and help prevent arguments from an early stage. Employing technology has also allowed us to offer customers a flat rate to support with financial and childcare arrangements, as well as legalising the split. By harnessing technology that reduces unnecessary overheads and automates what can be monotonous and expensive tasks, we’re able to offer an affordable alternative.

Accessibility

The pandemic has proven to us all that we don’t need to be together in order to make things happen.

amicable’s meetings between a customer and their Divorce Coach has always taken place online or over the phone, even before the pandemic. It has proven to be just, if not more effective, than face to face meetings. Separating is a highly emotive time and the option to log in from wherever you feel most comfortable, perhaps in a different location to your ex, can take some of the tension out of difficult conversations around separating money and childcare arrangements.

amicable’s customer dashboard was built to provide real time notifications into the status of the divorce, as well as clear next steps and estimated timeframes. This reduces uncertainty and keeps our customers in the loop, every step of the way.

Human centric

The technology/product designer mindset starts with the customer’s needs and works back from there. We adopted this approach when creating amicable’s technology as most people want to stay on good terms with their ex, sort the legalities and logistics properly and keep costs low. So, we started there and created technology and a business model that supported people with their wish to separate amicably.

Striking a careful balance between the employment of legal tech and the human touch is vital in ensuring a successful separation. After all, divorce is a complex, emotional experience which requires human input.

amicable’s tech has been built with people at its centre – it considers and understands the emotional path people embark upon when separating. Even the AI driven chatbot understands emotional readiness. If someone engages and is unsure about whether they’re ready to separate, they’ll be directed to counselling rather than being sold one of our services.

In response to our customers feedback on what technology they want and need when separating, we created the amicable co-parenting app. The app aims to reduce conflict and confusion and allow co-parents more time to focus on what’s important – their children. The app combines tools and advice to make co-parenting simpler, like a shared co-parenting calendar, goal setting and a secure private messaging function. The app also allows users to book time with a co-parenting coach to troubleshoot and work through co-parenting issues.

The future of divorce

The digitalised approach to separating is becoming the norm. At amicable, our customer base has increased by 400% in just two and half years. Although we are leading the way in regards to introducing technology into the divorce process, we don’t believe it will ever fully replace the need for an amicable coach who provides the all-important human support. Both hold equal importance and make for a highly effective route to separate.

Covid-19 has been a catalyst for the uptake in couples using technology to divorce online. We have all been thrusted into the online world. This has accelerated the switch from high street lawyers to online alternatives like amicable. Legal technology and the divorce and separation process will only become more entwined as people experience the benefits of digitalising their divorce, both emotionally and financially.


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