Saturday, March 2, 2024

From UK to India: Shreya Sharma Democratizing Legal Services

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In our conversation with Shreya Sharma, the brains behind “Rest the Case,” we see what led to the inception of this pioneering legal platform. Shreya’s journey began with her legal studies in the UK, where she experienced the ease of accessing legal information and assistance online. However, upon returning to India, she noted a stark contrast, the lack of accessibility to legal help and understanding. Motivated by this disparity, Shreya created Rest the Case, aiming to democratize legal services in India.

This interview offers insights into the platform’s approach, from pricing models to lawyer selection, and its role in promoting legal literacy and assisting marginalized communities.

A small introduction about the founder

I am Shreya Sharma. I’m a lawyer by profession and I’m currently running Rest the case. I’ve been running Rest the case for the past three years. I did my law from the UK, then came to India, and I then also did a course in National Law University in Delhi. While I was studying I was also working on Rest The Case. And as soon as I was done studying, I started this firm.

How did the idea of rest the case arrive in your mind?

When I was studying in the UK, I saw that there was a lot of legal information and a lot of legal help that you could find online. And I thought that that was something missing here. There was a gap over here in India where when we wanted to find a lawyer and we wanted to find information, there was not like one single place we could get everything, whether I wanted to get information as just simple information. Nothing complicated, just simple things. I want to know about the law or I want to know where to find a lawyer. Who should I go to? Which lawyer should I go to? If I have a divorce case, where should I go to? If I have a property case? Etc. There was a gap as to where people think it was lacking. There I thought that, this was something that needed to be done because, why should there be a gap in something that is so important, even one thing that before I started I knew that everything around us is running because of a law. Is happening because there’s a law in place for that thing and in that place only there is a gap. So that was something I wanted to kind of cover so that whether you want information, whether you want to talk to somebody who is studying this, who knows what they’re talking about, you should have one place to go to and get that kind of help.

What we as a platform do is we list lawyers of different types. So whether it is a lawyer who has five years of experience or a lawyer that has 20 years of experience. And what we do is that the lawyer tells us that this is how much we really charge. We tell the client that this is how much the lawyer charges. This lawyer charges this much, his experiences with matches in the cities. And he’s, you know, practices in this area or this court and that kind of thing. We give all this information to the client. If the client feels like this lawyer suits them, then they can go ahead with that client. If they feel like that lawyer does not suit them, then we help them out with another lawyer, depending on what kind of lawyer the client wants. What we’ve tried to do is that you still get the kind of help you want. You still get the kind of lawyer you want, but in the range that you would be willing to pay that lawyer, you can compare, you can see which lawyers suit you better and go ahead with that because there are some people who don’t like for them, it matters more that the lawyers really experience rather than how much they have to pay. But for some people, of course, it matters to them that they have to see how economical it is. So we’ve kind of given them that option that you can see you can this is the variety we have. You can see who suits you best, whatever things suits you. Like if supposing your criteria is this many years of experience, this much range and this much and this city, if there’s a lot of switch that potentially you take that lawyer and you can talk that we have all these options available. So we’ve given the client that option to choose. So like you have lawyers of all the ranges, like everyone could afford, like, like no one should feel disappointed after seeing the prizes and everything.

Like I said, we have to be transparent. If we are seeing that there’s a gap that people don’t know where to find a lawyer from or people don’t know how to get the help they need. The thing that will help that the most is us being transparent with the people who require the help. So we when asked how many, years’ experience somebody has written and truthfully, honestly and completely transparent with them.. What we as a company personally do is it’s not like we don’t onboard people who have less experience or we don’t onboard somebody who has lots of experience. We as a company on board, whoever wishes to be on the platform. So we try not to discriminate between somebody who has lesser experience and somebody who has more experience. But from a clients perspective, like I said, if my requirement is that someone is economical, but it doesn’t matter to me if somebody has a lot of experience, as long as that person is solving my problem, then we will give that loyalty. We don’t say that. No, no. You take somebody who has more experience. So we’ve kind of left it to the people to decide as to what kind of lawyer they would want, how they want to choose the lawyer, what matters to them when they’re finding a lawyer and what does it matter to them? We’ve kind of left it to that because we don’t want to force it on someone. You should take somebody who’s very experienced. We don’t want to force it on someone. They take somebody with lesser experience. So because what we wanted is to keep it transparent. We want to keep this entire thing completely transparent with everybody who’s using it, whether it’s the lawyers or the clients. And the only way to do that is say that this is how it is, whichever you want and however you want to choose it, you choose it.

So our document templates are created by lawyers. And so they were created by lawyers first by one lawyer. Another lawyer has then cross-checked that and made sure then that the lawyer has created that before it’s fine. And then after that it goes on the platform. In fact, all our content, all the content that goes on the platform is cross-checked twice before we put it on the platform. Nothing is just kind of check once and put it because we need to fill content on the website. It’s not like that. I have been very, very, have like put my foot down multiple times when I’ve been like, this is how it should be, that it should be checked. Um, it should not just because we have to put content, there has to be content on the website. So you put anything, it should not be like that. So a lawyer has drafted the contracts for us, then we have got that checked again by another lawyer and then we have put that up on the website.

So like I said, our content is very neutral and it’s more about giving information than saying, Oh, this is how this is right and this is wrong. It is that if you are in the middle of something, you should know everything about it, Not just some one person’s opinion or not just one side of something, whether it’s about the news, whether it’s about, any other information provided. Like we provide simple neutral information, like whether we’re even saying, what how to get a divorce, for example. It is a very, like it’s from both the sides, someone who’s trying to file for a divorce and someone who’s getting a divorce. So we’ve tried to put both the sides in every try to that because we’re now looking for information. You could be anyone. You could be from either side. So you whichever side you are on, you should be able to get information. So that’s what we’ve done for our content. And like I said, that everything is checked and everything is made sure that it is. There’s no opinion even in the news that we put there’s no political agenda or there’s nothing like that. I mean, think I’m going to say this again and again throughout the interview, but our main thing, when I was starting Rest the case is that, people will only understand what legal steps to take or what, uh, legal help to get if they have the correct information. And, you know, if nothing else, that’s the case should be a place where they see that, if I’ve read this thing on Rest the case. It’s correct information and I can trust the information and get it from here. So we make sure that everything that goes out from the case is keeping that in mind.

I think that that, like diversity comes only when you’re seeing something is an equal place. It is only like that if I don’t think twice as to should I keep this person because this person is a male or this person because person is a female. When we get people on board, we get people because they are professionals. We see that. We see that this person is professional or this person is not a professional. This person is fitting the criteria we have or this person is not fitting the criteria we have, whether it’s the people employed in the company. And so then that kind of goes ahead and, you know, shows in the lawyers we have also we don’t really see whether this person is a male or a female or anything else for that matter. We don’t see that. We see whether this person is a professional, but this person will be able to solve the purpose we are trying to solve. And this was actually add value. We see those things. I don’t see anything else. And that’s why I think it’s never that questions never kind of come up whether this person should be there or not be there with regards to anything else other than whether they are adding value to what you want to do

I think if anything, or adding technology because since we’re running a technology platform, I think technology kind of opens out opportunities to not be stuck to one place. Technology helps you to be everywhere and at one place at the same time. I mean, what’s better than that? You know, so I think that platforms like Rest The Case or technology driven companies help you get connected, better help you get like help. You know, people know you people help people see you help people connect with you because you are not restricted to one place or one small city or your office. You’re not restricted there. You are part of something bigger, something that’s around the country and, you know, around the world. So I think that according to me at least, that is what technology does. Technology helps you not be restricted and rest the case also for, all the lawyers that we have on board, when there is a lawyer and he even so, for example, now there’s a lawyer who only wants clients from, say, Delhi, which is fine because when he is doing it offline, right, when he’s doing it by himself is that area probably that he is working in that know about him. But when he’s on a platform like Rest The Case, it’s the entire Delhi and that knows about him. And it’s not just that area that he’s in or that office that he’s in where people know him. It is entire Delhi. And that itself is also a big thing. And then after that, if it’s not just in Delhi, then you’re in another city. We are in the whole country. I mean, wouldn’t you rather want to do like free like that and be connected with more people than being restricted to one place?

So how does your platform handle conflicts of interest among listed lawyers?

We only give one client to one lawyer. We don’t give one client to multiple lawyers. That is something actually that we saw and I had before we created our business plan and created how Rest the case would work. I had spoken to multiple lawyers about what issues they were having with platforms like these are platforms that give leads or clients and that kind of thing. And with most of them, the problem was that there is opposing one client who has called the company. And then that company takes that lead and gives it to ten lawyers that they have listed on their websites or apps or whatever. And then all those ten lawyers will then call this client. And then by the end of it, the client is irritated, the lawyer is irritated, and nothing comes of it. If you get lucky, something comes out of it. But how often you just get lucky. So that was a major problem that the lawyers were having. So when we spoke to them, that’s what kind of came out of it. So what we have done is we have done one client for one lawyer in the sense that when someone comes to us and says that or is looking on the website, but I’m just saying that if they’ve come to us right, and they have said that they want a lawyer from Delhi, they want it for a property matter and they want it around this area. So we connect them to one lawyer, If for some reason it doesn’t go ahead with that lawyer or the lawyer says, oh, I can’t take this case up or the client says, no, I don’t want to talk to this lawyer, it’s not working good for me. Then we give them another lawyer till the time the client and the lawyer have not mutually said, We don’t want this client or this lawyer. We let them do their thing. If they feel like they don’t want to go ahead with either, then we send them to somebody else. That’s how you kind of make sure that two lawyers are not fighting for one client or one client is not fighting over or ten lawyers that they are talking to one person. They’re trying to get their problem solved. If that doesn’t happen, then we send them to somebody else.

So does Rest the case benefit underserved communities and individuals?

We do. So we keep trying whether we can. We have also done a lot of sessions with NGOs. We did think last year we did a seminar with women who were affected because of the pandemic and because of that they have property issues or issues with their family and, you know, that kind of thing. So we had a session with them with our lawyers. Our lawyers talked to them and helped them out with whatever problem they were having. They would send their cases to us and we would forward them to the lawyers. And so that was one of the things we did. We also worked with senior citizens. There’s another NGO which had only senior citizens. And so most of them had an issue with visas and they had some family issues and family disputes that they wanted to solve. And that was going on for a long time. And also we helped them out. We sent a lawyer there. The lawyer spoke to them, you know, took their cases up and sort that out. So we whenever we get an opportunity, we try to connect with NGOs and try to get that done as well.

Yes, like we’ve been talking about. We, explain things that otherwise would sound complicated to somebody who’s not studied law or does not know about the general things that are happening in law. And we have a separate section, which is called the Knowledge Bank, which is on our website. And on that we have multiple sections dedicated to multiple things related to the law in the sense that we have one section which is just explaining legal terms. We have another section which kind of explains the procedures of things like if you know now what an art is through one section, then how do you report an FIR? Or what happens once you have filed an act, that kind of thing. Then we also have, like we were discussing before, we have news. So you’re up to date and like if there is a news and we kind of tell you what happened also, obviously, but also what the legal implications is, something like that. Ah, so like recently in news, if there is the thing going on about India and that kind of thing. So then we kind of explain what the constitution says about such things, right? What whether that is actually whether you can call it or not, that kind of thing. We kind of explain on the website so that, you have a whole rounded, you know, information on everything that is going on around you and things that you kind of keep hearing. Something that was just a word, something that just fit, you know, now what it is, right?

As a founder, what are your learnings?

I’m still learning every day because I think every day I come to work. And then there is something new that I have not thought of before or have a new problem that I’ve not heard it before and comes up. But think from the beginning what I’ve been hearing and what has been coming to me again and again is you should not think. One thing that I’ve learned the most is that I should not forget why I started doing this. Because even when we add new things or when we try to do new things in the company, I always try to keep in mind why I started. And so with that in mind, when I’m developing new things, I’m still on the same path and still on the same. I want to do the same thing maybe in different ways as we add new things, but we want to do the same thing. Which I think was something that I really appreciated thinking about. It’s written down, it’s written, why we started so that I’m, I remember that every day and everyone else remembers every day why we started so that everything we do revolves around that. I think that is what I’ve learned.

What does rest the case mean?

So when the lawyer finishes the case right after he finishes presenting a case, he says, okay, I rest my case, which means that stopped talking and he’s given all the information he has to give. The case ends there. So, um, the point of it is that when you say Rest the case, your case is over. So when you come to us, the case should be over.

Shreya Sharma’s vision for Rest the Case is not just a business venture; it’s a mission to make legal help more accessible and understandable. By prioritizing transparency, legal literacy, and affordable services, Rest the Case stands as a beacon of hope in the complex world of law. Shreya’s journey from the UK to India has brought about a positive change, and Rest the Case is a vital resource for those seeking clarity and assistance in the legal landscape.

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