Legaltech 101 Workshop Series: Student to Founder — The Legaltech Journey
Our Hilary Term Card was kickstarted by the first session of our Legaltech 101 Workshop Series with Chang Zi Qian, co-founder of INTELLLEX, recounting his entrepreneurial journey in the legaltech industry. Upon graduation, Zi Qian practiced law in Singapore before moving to the Singapore Prime Minister’s Office where he focused on innovation and start-up policy. However, his relentless search for practical solutions in legal practice, as well as the allure of entrepreneurship, prompted the creation of INTELLLEX. INTELLLEX is a legaltech start-up, with offices in Singapore and London, which provides a dedicated knowledge management platform for law firms. The firm raised US$2.1 Million in 2020 and recently completed its Proof of Concept with global law firm Clifford Chance.
Through INTELLIX, Zi Qian sought to capture the potential offered by digital solutions to the tedious and repetitive processes tied up within the legal industry. He noted that lawyers usually have very clear objectives, however, meeting these goals is often inhibited by the underlying processes. As a knowledge-based profession, the constant search and retrieval of information through bureaucratic processes adds significant costs for lawyers. Through INTELLLEX, a clear and coherent structure is provided to lawyer’s pre-existing information, improving accessibility and reducing service costs, which can inevitably improve the timing and quality of advice provided to clients.
On his transition from legal practice, Zi Qian noted two key challenges in establishing INTELLEX. Firstly, building credibility and reputation in the technology industry presented significant hurdles in engagement with technology experts, such as engineers. To overcome this, he had to develop a deep understanding of the structures behind product design and iterative processes. He noted his current role as a domain expert within the firm, focusing on the legal aspects in designing the product. This supports the technical roles, delineating responsibilities according to each respective key skillset and creating a complementary organisational structure.
Secondly, and more pressing, is achieving market fit for your proposed product. In contrast to traditional physical products, which have an easily perceived market fit, technological products work off the basis of an initial hypothesis. This hypothesis requires intricate and rigorous testing which, in turn, requires significant funding. Zi Qian has confidence in his own product’s market fit in light of the changing landscape of the legal industry. This is reflected in the growing adoption of cloud computing and document automation in legal practice. Therefore, he sees INTELLLIX adding to, and complementing, this transformation within the industry.
Zi Qian offered several key pieces of advice to students seeking to replicate his path within the legaltech industry. He underlined the importance of knowing and understanding the legaltech market. As a growing field, it is essential to have a credible grasp of the space, knowing its various contours and understanding its key developments. Linked to this, he encouraged students to network within the field in order to obtain key contacts. This should contribute to building a ‘product development mindset’ which will enable your ability to link key resources and understand the underlying product development phases. Furthermore, for those coming from a legal background, he highlighted the importance of developing project management skills as a complement to their existing legal expertise.