In this episode of LawTech Industry Insiders, Bryher Rose is joined by Alex Woolley, Family Associate - Farrer & Co LLP and founder of the legal-tech start up, Formily. Alex was recently named one of the "Top 10 most Innovaive Junior Lawyers in the UK" by the Legal Technologist.
If you are interested in Family Law, then this is an interview for you!
Q. Please introduce yourself
I am Alex Woolley, co-founder of Formily and a practicing family law solicitor at Farrer & Co LLP.
Q. What is your career journey to date?
I founded Formily with Sam Littlejohns, a former family law barrister at the top family finance set in the country, in March 2019.
In terms of my career as a solicitor: I joined Winckworth Sherwood LLP upon qualification having completed my training contract with the firm straight out of law school. I worked at Winckworth Sherwood LLP in the family team for just over 3 years before joining Farrers in October 2020.
Q. How do you think that legal technology can improve legal service delivery?
Legal technology does not have to be about blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning (as cool as some of the products using those technologies are).
The legal industry is still full of so many areas and practices that could be improved ten-fold by the adoption of simple tools and processes which increase efficiency. In some cases, these tools can even put the power back in to the client’s hands to decide what tasks they can and want to do, and what tasks they want to pay their lawyers to do. This is particularly the case for practice areas which assist lay (rather that corporate) clients. For example, the family law field.
Q. Please introduce Formily
Formily is an award winning online tool to help solicitors, their clients and litigants in person complete their financial disclosure statement (Form E) during divorce.
Q. Please explain how Formily works?
At its heart, Formily solves a very simple problem. How do you make the long, tedious and expensive process of completing a Form E more efficient (and therefore cheaper) and better for the client?
Formily is an online tool that decodes the gobbledegook littered throughout the form and walks the client step-by-step through each of the questions. The client can therefore complete a much better ‘first draft’ of their Form E before the solicitor adds their input and polish. This means that clients get the best of both worlds: they are not paying their solicitor to input their financial details into a form, but they can still benefit from the experience and knowledge of their solicitor to make sure their case is presented in the best way possible. The tools we are currently developing will mean clients and solicitors will be able to collaborate on the Form E in a way that is not currently possible.
On top of the simple breaking down of the form, there are lots of other features (such as auto-sums, document upload and the ability to generate a fully editable schedule of assets and chronology) to make the client and solicitor’s lives easier and the process more efficient.
Q. What do you think is the biggest catalyst for change in the legal technology sector?
Legal tech aimed at individual clients (as opposed to legal tech in larger corporate practice areas) is still in its infancy.
As lay clients get more and more used to their professional services being available through online tools (such as their banking and insurance) I am of the view that we will simply hit a point in the not too distant future where they demand the same from their legal services (whether that be their family lawyers, their private client lawyers or their conveyancers) and the availability of tools will make a difference in the firm they instruct.
Q. What would be your advice to students who want to learn more about legal technology?
Students should look critically at the way things are currently done! Many processes are only still in place because nobody has ever asked ‘why’ they are done that way and if they could be done differently (and better!).
If you would like to find out more about Formily - please follow this link! www.formily.co.uk