Thursday, January 10, 2013
Bringing Lawyers Into The Mobile Age, With PushLegal's Alex Torry
If you're an attorney on the go, what's the best way to look up that legal reference or check through current statutes? There aren't that many options. However, a Houston-based startup, PushLegal (www.pushlegal.com), is hoping to change that, by creating a set of mobile applications which allow lawyers to look up statutes, rules, and case law on the go. We spoke with the firm's co-founder and COO, Alex Torry, who helped us understand what the company offers to its users.
What is PushLegal?
Alex Torry: PushLegal is a digital law library, which provides fast, convenient access to statutes, rules, and innovative case law on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. It allows lawyers to access that on their mobile device, anytime, anywhere. It's like carrying a mobile law library in your pocket. It includes more than 30 mobile desk books, covering frequently referenced Federal, Texas, California, New York, and Florida codes and rules. Each user can customize their virtual bookshelf at their fingertip. Those electronic desk books are available in a mobile app on iOS, Android, or Blackberry, or can be used online.
Does this work even if you're offline, or do you need a connection?
Alex Torry: It works even when you're offline.
How did the company come about?
Alex Torry: The idea was actually the brainchild of my business partner, Jonathan J. Paull. He is a criminal defense attorney, and was frustrated with heavy desk books. Lawyers are always thinking about their cases, not just in the courtroom, not just in the boardroom, and not just when they're with a client. They might be walking downtown, on the golf course, having lunch with their associates, or even lying in bed at night. When they have that eureka moment, lawyers don't always have those reference books on them, and might not even have a computer to look them up. However, lawyers almost always have their smartphone in their pocket. So, if you have an app, on a device you're carrying anywhere with you, it's a perfect solution. In late 2010, with the whole technology industry on the precipice of the broadband mobile revolution with smartphones and tablets, it really opened up a brand new market for everything. He believed that this would add value to day-to-day practice, and revolutionize the practice of law. Mobile technology is a superior platform to change the practice of law for the better, and he had this vision of using mobile technology to free lawyers from heavy desktop books, via PushLegal's mobile law library. Our mission was not just to be someplace where layers go for legal references, but also to transform the future practice of law.
How difficult was it to put this together and gather all that data?
Alex Torry: There was a lot of data. We built our product using existing, open source content and technology, such as sources like Google Scholar. Even in doing so, it did take awhile, and we spent a year and a half to develop the content. However, because we're using existing open source content and technology, we've been able to develop a valuable app which is less expensive than printed and other digital alternatives.
What has been the most difficult part of getting all that data into your app?
Alex Torry: I once read that when you're at the leading edge of a rapidly changing field, you don't have to look for waves, because you are the wave. That's where we are. We're living in the future, making an all-in bet on the important of mobility and legal research and reference. The established players are still focused on desktop solutions. But, there's been a paradigm shift, and this is a punch to the status quo. The most difficult part has been to get people to switch to a new technology, and do this in a completely different way. Even if the new way is an obvious solution, that's probably been the most challenging piece.
Has it been difficult to get attorneys to switching to your new way of doing things?
Alex Torry: It is brand new, and lawyers have been doing things the old fashioned way, so it is a paradigm shift. That's part of the reason we recently came up with a free, student plan. We made the entire digital law library free to students, because students and younger attorneys get it. Checking facts on the go is essential for all lawyers, and law students need those same tools for real world scenarios. Students are future lawyers, and we think that free subscriptions will help them get one step ahead with their studies and with their future law practice.
Finally, what are the next steps for you?
Alex Torry: We'd like to reach as many lawyers possible with our solution, and we're just excited to help drive technology forward in law.
Thanks, and good luck!