Episode 8: The legaltech opportunity

Hayley is an amazing founder. She has found a great niche market in the legal industry and developed an app that, literally, saves her hundreds of hours and allowed her to scale her operations.

Listen to learn more about a true entrepreneurial journey and how #nocode and #lowcode are creating unique opportunities for founders!


Hayley: You might go to law school thinking you want to do one type of thing, but you don't really know what you don't know. So for example, me in particular, I thought I wanted to do entertainment, but as I learn more about the laws, I had experience of entertainment, I really, I didn't know what else I wanted to do.

Jesus: Hi everyone. This is Jesus from LowCode, and today in LowCode's Podcast we have Hayley Leviashvili, she is the founder of gigLAW. Uh, Hailey, why don't you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit more about you and gigLAW?

Hayley: Of course, thank you so much for having me in the first place. And I, yeah, as you mentioned, my name is Hayley Leviashvili, I am from New York, originally went to USC in the US in California for undergrad, and then I went to law school back in New York city, and while I was in law school, I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my law degree. I thought I wanted to do entertainment, and so I went to Warner Brothers and then I went to an entertainment law firm.

But I, while I was there, I kind of realized, okay, what if I don't necessarily want to do entertainment? What if there's another part of the law that I want to do? And I felt that my law school education wasn't really showing me what it's like to be an estate planning lawyer, or a bankruptcy lawyer, any type of law, any type of employer except for the prep for the theoretical part. So what I started to do is I was researching any type of lawyer throughout the U S that was willing to talk to me and all practices across the board, just to hear about their experiences, learn what their, what it's like to be them as a lawyer.

Jesus: Were you still studying?

Hayley: Yep. I was in my second year. So in the US is two years of law school. So the first year is pretty brutal where it's really just focusing on classes. And then the second year you can kind of explore more options. And so, and you have a little bit more free time too. So a lot of people they'll join groups in law school or their volunteer.

And so I did a little volunteering. I was part of some groups, but I had a lot of time to network. And so while I was networking, there was one smaller firm out in California, actually. And they had a specific specialty in cryptocurrency, which I was interested in at the time. And when I was chatting with him, he essentially said to me, hey, I'm a small firm, I don't have the overhead to bring someone on full time. Would you want help me on a project basis? 

And this was in 2019, 2018, so the gig economy was like very, it was thriving with Uber and Postmates, which are the delivery apps, also that idea of gig work really was in my head. And then I was like, hey, this could possibly be something in the legal industry because I've found this gap where law firms, especially on the smaller side, they don't have access to top talent and law students in general.

They don't really have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in multiple sectors of the law. They really can just explore wherever they're at an internship for the summer or the semester. So I found this niche and that's where the idea of gig law started, where it's essentially, we provide law firms with legal intern level assistance on a virtual basis.

And so this was right before the pandemic. So the idea of virtual assistants wasn't as, uh, trusted, and then when the pandemic came, it just was kind of the perfect runway to take off. 

Jesus: Do you think, at least in my experience, lawyers are very against technology. I, my, my previous startup was on the legal tech industry and it was so hard.

I mean, there, there, I don't know why maybe it's the way they study. Like you guys studied in school, but they're just technology averse. Do you think, what do you think about that? I mean, has that been a challenge or not anymore? 

Hayley: So I think that the pandemic really changed the landscape in its entirety because not only is, technology now you have to use it, whether it's Zoom or it's DocuSign or Panda doc, there are so many different platforms out there that you have to use in order to get the deals done in this, in essence.

On the transactional side. I think people are more open to it on the litigation side. It's it's still, you know, I think it's still more traditional, but I just think lawyers are so risk averse that they think, oh, technology, this is the way the... Our practice worked in the past, we're not going to change it.

And the pandemic really offended that, where now they have to change, they have to adapt. And also there are a lot of lawyers out there who are evaluating their decisions, and maybe they don't want to work at a corporate firm and maybe they do want to just have a smaller firm or work at a smaller firm, and have amp with a smaller firm it's, you want to cut on costs.

And so I think an easy way to cut on manual labor, just like human costs is to adopt technology. I think there is going to be a major shift in the trend of adopting technology, but it's definitely, it started out as a major challenge, but I think things are changing for the better. And, um, yeah, it's just, I think it's a generational thing because people in the younger generations are more open to adopting it, but the older generations are a little bit more hesitant.

Jesus: Right. Yeah. That makes sense. Now. Um, why do you think, why you find this gap? Like in my experience, people like do a summer job at a law firm or something, is your concept, is your idea related to students don't get enough exposure to different types of law? And that's the goal of gigLAW for them to work at different law firms, small law firms that do different kinds of things?

And then they find their ideal type of law practice? 

Hayley: Exactly. And so I think the main reason for that is, or my goal for that, or the thing that I realized while I was in law school is that you might go to law school thinking you want to do one type of thing, but you don't really know what you don't know.

So for example, me in particular, I thought I wanted to do entertainment, but as I learn more about the laws, I had experience of entertainment, I really, I didn't know what else I wanted to do. So when I started to get experience in bankruptcy and also estate planing, two parts of the law that I never imagined ever working in, I realized that I loved it so much. And then I started doing more, more, and really it was appreciating it, and, and I think that a lot of our students have that exact same type of experience. So when a student comes on board, we always ask what they're interested in. And most of them will generally say general business law, IP transactions.

Then, if I send them a unique type of assignment, maybe something on the litigation side or personal injury or bankruptcy, they ended up really enjoying it. And then they start to reevaluate in their heads like, oh, maybe I would like this type of law. So, and a benefit as well as when the law students can connect with the law firms themselves and just see what their day-to-day lives are like, it just gives them exposure and more, more knowledge to make a more educated decision on what they want to do with your law degree. 

Jesus: So, for students to be part of gigLAW, it's just like a temporary, I don't want to say solution, like temporary jobs, small jobs, that they kind of like shop around different types of law firms, different types of law. And then at the end is the goal for them to find a, like a full-time job in a law firm and not spend any more time in gigLAW so their lifetime in gigLAW is like short couple years, maybe. 

Hayley: Yes. So that's generally how it does work. However, what we've been finding is there's a lot of uniqueness and this might again be a product of the pandemic, but we have a lot of students who they came on with us when they were third year.

And then they graduated. They're recently licensed now. And they either, there might be a full-time mom as well, so they just want to work part-time. And so they came to, they come to us just for part-time work. And then we also have some students who enjoy having the freedom of just being able to choose assignments when they want, be able to make a good income, and so a lot of we're finding that there actually are a few students who just enjoy working with us full time on that independent contractor basis. 

So it's really dependent on the student and their situation and what their goals are and what their financial situation is, but generally it is throughout the lifetime of the, of their law time at law school, but we're also finding that some law firms, they might enjoy working with the students so much that by the time they're graduating, they might want to bring on a, a specific student to their practice.

So it can really set them off to their full-time job, which is great as well. We love that. Right. 

Jesus: That's good. How are you getting with this type of marketplace as well? I mean your case, it's not as true marketplace, but that the end it kind of is because you have law firms on one end and students and you do the matching.

Um, so in general, marketplace have a very hard time scaling because while it's very difficult for apps to get users, in marketplaces is even harder because it's times two, right. How do you get, I mean, we're just speaking about students, so how do you get students onboarded into gigLAW? 

Hayley: Absolutely. So basically what we did at the beginning was I started connecting with a lot of law school career centers, just to tell them about what we're doing, what the, what the opportunity can be for their students.

And so then those career centers would go and post like a job posting saying hey, you can do this. And I sent them a little blurb explaining what gigLAW is, how it's just a project basis app, or it can be ongoing if you get paired with a client. And once the law school career center started posting that, we just would get a hundred applications.

So right now we actually have a wait list of over a hundred students waiting to come on board. But, um, this is where it LowCode came in and is really changing the landscape of gigLAW because we would have so many students wanting work that the next challenge would be, okay, how do we get more clients? How do we get more law firms to send us more work? 

And then once we were growing the law firm side of the clientele, that's when it became an issue for me without having an app to manage it all. And so it was a marketplace, but like I was just the marketplace. So everything was just running through me, doing manual emails, using a sauna, using the tools that already exist, just to learn about what the processes need to be in place before I could build out an app.

And also I just needed to prove the concept to myself that this is actually an idea that people on both sides want. But yes.

Jesus: Are you doing this full-time? 

Hayley: Yes. Full-time. I have been doing this full time since I graduated law school and May, 2020. 

Jesus: Um, okay. Yeah. May 2020. Okay, cool. Now, okay. So how do you get clients?

So just for context. Um, law firms are law firms being you, and you pay the students or law firms pay the students? 

Hayley: They pay me and then I pay the students out. So basically with the law students, we pay them on a bi-weekly basis, and they now through the app that you built, um, they're able to submit invoices that way.

But before I met with you, I had worked with glide myself and created them very jenky app for them to be able to submit invoices. And then for our clients, the way it works for them, they're either on a subscription basis on a month to month basis, or they're on a project basis, but I keep their account open until the end of the month.

And then at the end of the month, on the first of each month, we send out the invoices to the client. So it's very, it's a very, um, two-sided process. 

Jesus: Do you think that eventually when you onboard more clients that will change? Because right now that part is still very manual. Do you think the business will go like more to a subscription model or project-based or you'll keep both? 

Hayley: I think I'll keep both. It really is just depending on the type of client, I think that, we have like different buckets of clients, and so with general business lawyers and litigators, they're more on the project basis, but they might need 20 to 30 hours of work per month, but they'd want to have that flexibility of saying, hey, this month, I only want to send 10 hours of work.

So we keep them, I think they prefer the project basis, but when you have a client into like an estate planning client, they know, hey, I'm going to have eight plans per month. So they like having the set plan per month package, and so, I think it just depends on the client, but we're going to keep both models for the foreseeable future, just because it's, we're trying to meet the needs of different types of law firms and each different type of law firm, they're essentially a different type of customer profile, so, trying to meet the needs of all of them. 

Jesus: And how are you getting customers? Are you doing like outreach, cold outreaching, mailing? 

Hayley: Yes. So basically what, we've gotten a lot of customers from word of mouth and referrals, which is great, so we haven't really invested much money and we actually haven't spent any money on ads or keywords or anything like that.

The only, uh, we do use a platform called apollo.io, and so we build out the list on Hollow, which gives you, it's great, it gives you access to emails and all, and then we have sequences going for that. And so it's mainly email campaigns and word of mouth referrals, but, um, it really it's, I would say it's 50-50 of where the clients come from on both of those.

Jesus: That's very good. I mean, when you have 50% of your clients coming from referrals, that is product market fix there's, there's a very quick

Hayley: And they're happy, and so I'm happy that they're happy so, that's great. 

Jesus: Are your clients saving money? Like if they didn't hire from gigLAW, what would they do? 

Hayley: So there are different options that law firms can do.

They can either have a student on board for the semester or the summer and give them school credit or not paying them at all. Which I, you know, as someone who went through law school, I was offended by firms saying that they're not going to pay we're in our twenties. Yeah. You can't work for free anymore.

I just think that model needs to go. And then another alternative is that a law firm brings someone on for the semester. They can pay them a one time fee or an hourly rate. Um, I think that most, at least what I experienced personally was that they paid me a flat rate for the, for 10 weeks over the summer.

But then when you break down the amount of hours per week, it's still just, um, for the students, it can be, it depends on how much they work, but it can, it can either be fair or unfair, but, um, for law firms and some of those, I think the main way that they're saving costs is sometimes when they bring someone on for the summer and they're paying full hourly rates for the full week.

There's probably a good amount of time per week, at least 10 hours where the student is not really doing much, they don't have enough to give them. So by giving them the option of a project basis, they're really only paying for the work actually being done for them. And so that's great for them too. And then also another problem on the law firm side is the difficulty in actually finding talent.

And so what our platform provides is that we actually vet our students. We give them training and that's another cost for the firm is that they might put in, if they have someone for a semester or for a summer, they have to spend at least a week training them, showing them their processes and everything.

And just making sure that all the work is up to their standards. And with gigLAW, we've created this, what I call our Bible guidebook, where it's essentially just everything to make the best work product possible for our clients. We've put in in there and they have to follow it to a T for every type of assignment.

So whether it's drafting a contract, doing a research assignment, doing an estate plan, writing a blog post article, we have step-by-step instructions for them. So we take away all the heavy lifting of the training aspect and the finding the actual, the actual talent for the law firms. So we saved them, both monetary costs, monetary costs, and then also time consuming costs and training costs.

So it's all of these overhead costs that usually go in that's where, like we wipe it out for them. 

Jesus: That's very cool. And since you have such a large database of students, you can qualify your students very much that you can really have the best of the best on the platform. Are law firms, uh, working consistently with the same students or they don't care that much?

Hayley: It's so funny that you asked that because everyone asks me that and it's, it's completely random, you know, I think it's just completely based on what the law firm wants. Some law firms do not care whatsoever. They just submit it and say, hey, anyone who wants to work on it, go for it. But I think once someone works with a student, really likes their work, then there'll be really stuck on that suit and say, I only want to work with this student.

And so that definitely happens as well, but, um, yeah, it really is mixed, and really, it depends on the client. 

Jesus: Okay, cool. So when I want it, I want to talk about something else. So you came up with this idea and then you started building the glide app, getting in glide yourself, how did you find glide or you came up with the idea, like, did you find Glide, did you find no code? How do you end up in Glide? 

Hayley: So I was part of a startup cohort where it was gigLAW and around seven or eight other startups that, um, had access to these investors and advisors on a monthly basis that I was able to chat with. And there was one guy in a particular that was just like a whiz with all apps. And when I was telling you about the problems that I was facing, mainly just, I was doing everything manually, I didn't automate anything, I don't know how to create an app, like I was just kind of lost, just trying to figure out what to do, he was like, you need to find glide.

Like go in there, if you're not technical, it's fine, go in and just build it yourself. And so I was like, oh wow, this is great. Let me, let me check it out. So I checked that out, and when I started, I mentioned, I built out the invoicing part of my app and it was so hard, and it's like, it's not that as easy as these people try to make it seem. Like it's great, I think it's a lot easier than like bubble.io or some of the other platforms, but, um, I just, it took me at least 20 to 30 hours just to make my really not good app. And, um, but I saw the benefit and I saw the value, I saw the different templates that were available, but I realized if I just bought a template, it might not meet the needs that I'm looking for. And so I found, that's how I found glide, but I found you guys by just honestly doing a Google search and just looking at like, what are the best companies to build out glide apps and you guys had amazing reviews. I actually found you guys to have the most trusting reviews, and also based on the fact that you guys specialize in glide, right? I believe so. 

That's what I really liked because there are a lot of other companies out there who were like, oh, we do glide, we do, um, app sheets, we do bubble.io. They do everything. And I was like, I like, I don't want to work with glide. So I wanted to work with people who knew vide.

Jesus: What are you? I mean, today there are a lot of automations going on your app. And I think that automations are really a game changer because it frees you up. I mean, you can do so many things that, now that the little bots are working for you. So now that you have learn or seen how all of these automation works, uh, what else you think can be automated down the road for you?

Hayley: So I think like that anything can be automated after seeing what you guys can do. I think the main thing I really want to, you guys actually have automated most of the things that are crucial for the business, which are mainly just the email automations, which I love. And then I just, also, the main, another thing I want to be able to do is, I don't know if this is automated though, but, um, just being able to have, um, law firms be able to actually tag students, if they want to specifically only have one student on that, but I don't really know if that's an automation, but my main goals for automation were, one, being able to have the students be notified when, um, an app, when, uh, an assignment is posted and then also the law firms getting notified as soon as someone accepts it.

And then also when they submit the assignment and then when to read and review the student. Everything that you guys did. Like, I really did spend the last year and a half just thinking about what needs to be automated and that's what wanted to be one of the apps. So I think as I test out the app more, we launched a couple of weeks ago and people are using it.

It's been fantastic already, but I'm sure as we keep going, I'm going to get feedback from both the clients and the law students about what they want to be automated more. But right now it's done a good launch place. 

Jesus: Yeah. Yeah. Where do you think this will go? I mean, what would be the goal to end up building a full-blown platform that matches lawyers to, to students? Is that the end goal?

Hayley: Exactly. So I don't think it's necessarily matching. I think what I really love about the platform, is that it's, the platform is the central focus. It's not really just a marketplace before matching, it's a marketplace for law firms to submit their assignments. And so I think that's what I really love about it.

And that's what is unique is that there's still, um, a personal touch to it from my end, at least I know they can have us, they can reach out to if there's a problem. And then also I think the personal touch of having the specific email to send the deliverable to outside of the app, maybe we, I'll put that inside the app to make it even more centralized.

The long-term goal is build this out as much as possible in the legal space. And then I think there really is space to grow into other industries as well. Like I think the project-based market in the aim for students in general, it's really, there's so much room for it. And so, just I'm, just in the process of working with law firms, there are so many people that reach out for marketing needs and they reach out for accounting or bookkeeping needs.

Like, I just think there's a lot of space outside of the law to be able to fill this out. But for now definitely focusing on legal profession, cause that's what my area of expertise is, and that's where, uh, that's where I think it's going. At least for the next year. 

Jesus: I have another question. A few or most of all of the features that you have in the current app are, those features that you wanted them yourself or features that clients ask? My question is, did you added a lot of feedback from clients or was this your wishlist, like version one is your wishlist, and maybe feedback is coming down the road?

Hayley: Yeah. So it's funny that you mentioned this because a year and actually before may, 2020 while I was still in law school, I had outsourced, um, to some, two engineers to build out a proof of concept for me and MVP. And I was so focused on a, um, a progress bar. Like, you know, I don't know if you order a pizza from Domino's ever, but they have a progress bar, that was my vision for it.

And I really was like, oh, this is going to be the central point of the app. And as I worked in the last year and a half, I like realized so quickly that was, not even quickly, actually, I realized down the line, like, I don't know why I was so focused on that because, yeah, that's what I wanted, but I didn't even take the iteration what the law firms wanted.

And so everything that the app is built on right now is based on feedback from the law students and the law firms. And a major challenge was figuring out how to put in all of their wants and needs on both sides. And like for the law firms, what I realized, they really, they don't want a progress bar, at least the ones that I work with. 

They want to see in like organized ways like what's in, what's pending, what's in progress, what's completed. Like they want to see that in kind of like a column as Y, which is exactly what you created. And so now they love that, and for the students, they love the same thing. Like their number, one thing that they wanted was to have a dashboard where they can just freely select and then also, um, just be able to stay organized on what's outstanding, what's completed, what they've completed, and the rating and reviews, that's actually something that, so it was more on the law firm side because they would always ask me, oh, who who's working on my work? How do I know who they are? And so having the students create their profiles, that way it came out so much better than I could have envisioned because I just knew I wanted them to be able to create a profile.

But the way that you guys built it, it's just like so logical. I think that's the main part of glide and the app that you guys built is that it's just very logical and it's very logical based on the wishlist that I created for you guys. But the wishlist was completely based on learning from my clients for a year and a half and learning from the law students for a year, for a year and a half.

So I, through throughout the whole time that I didn't have an app, I kept saying to myself, I need to create an app, I need to create an app, but the question that I would always get back from people is like, what do you want the app for? What's it going to achieve? And that's what I really had to sit down and like figure it out what the issues are and my current processes and how an app can fix that.

And that's how, that's how I was able to, um, put together that 20 point, 20 page PowerPoint I sent to you guys about the processes. 

Jesus: That's great. Yeah. I mean, with Glide, uh, we think on, on user journeys right, so it has to be very linear. So for students, they log in, they create an account. I mean, it has to be a very clear line because we are used to these million dollar apps like Uber and Netflix and whatever, that you just open the app, I mean, a two year old can open Uber and they can order a car. Right? You know, it's, it's, it requires nothing from our end. So people expect that, that level of simplicity, that when while Glide is handling the user interface and the user experience, we just feel like the flow. And then you end up with good-looking great-working app. That's right?

Do you think, are you planning to raise money or do you wanna bootstrap this till the end?

Hayley: I don't know if I want to bootstrap until the end, but I definitely, for the like, again, when I've spoke, cause I, I'm a big personal lover of learning, like learning from others who have achieved what you want to achieve.

And so then that was like the million dollar question for me again, for throughout the last year it was whether or not I should raise. And so many people told me the pros and cons of raising versus bootstrapping. And I think, I think the main motivation behind me creating this company in and of itself was me realizing that I want freedom.

Like I'm willing to work 70 hours a week, as long as it's for myself. You know, I don't, I don't like working for others, and I like having the freedom that I do with the app, growing it, learning from it and not having the pressures that I think raising and having BCs involved and investors involved.

So I think we're profitable right now. Every, I'm putting all the money back into the business, just investing, growing it. And until I get to a point where I need to raise and I absolutely, I need money in order to grow the team or grow the, grow anything, then I'm going to bootstrap until then, but, um, you know, I think, I think the whole concept of being student based is what helps the company.

It can grow, you know, I think that's where, that's where we shine. 

Jesus: What do you mean by that? 

Hayley: So we operate and we're able to do grow and make money and do well and keep our costs low, because the students do such good work. And I think students and law students, undergraduate students, any type of student there's such on there, it's like a pool of talent that's untapped because it's just such limited opportunities. They think, okay, I'm a student. I go to one place or they don't really, they might think on a project basis. We have seen that the younger generations are very, uh, crafty, but, um, I think like for, for example, for sales development, we have a student intern onboard and then for social media marketing, where you have a student intern onboard.

So I think giving these students the opportunity to have experience is what's helped, has helped us grow and like having the students onboard to do the work, that's what help has helped us grow. So I think, um, we don't need to raise yet, but I'm sure down the line, if we really want to explode there's gotta have to be some sort of investment, but for now I'm good with bootstrap.

Jesus: That's good. That's great. That's a good answer, uh, well that's the answer I like, anyway. Cool. So Hayley can you share with us, where can people find more about gigLAW, can be a website or anything. 

Hayley: Of course you can find us at giglaw.co, if you want to check out the app, you can go to app.giglaw.co, we're on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, but the main places that we post are on LinkedIn.

If you want to find us, you can look up me on LinkedIn, or you can look on gigLAW on LinkedIn, but that's where we are. 

Jesus: That's great. Hayley, thanks for joining us today. 

Hayley: Of course, thank you so much for having me. .