43 LegalTech Companies: Africa Market Map

Published 14 December 2020
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LegalTech: Africa Market Map 2020

In a thought leadership piece published by the International Bar AssociationNankunda Katangaza, co-founder of Hook Tangaza, a legal research and advisory firm, observes that “the interface of law and technology and its impact on the delivery of legal services globally has grown imperceptibly yet consistently over the last decade.” Technology can help legal firms to both manage their business processes and deliver better value to their clients. The impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the legal profession has potentially hastened this adoption throughout 2020. So as firms across try to maintain the continuity of case-work, client meetings and document preparation, does this create a new opportunity for African Legal technology entrepreneurs?

The legal profession requires many hours of research, interpretation and document preparation. However, the scope of legal technology extends beyond preparing case work. Digital and mobile technology has the potential to enable both commercial and non-profit legal professionals a cost-effective route to reach wider audiences; removing some geographical boundaries and accelerating administrative procedures. For example, some of the approaches employed in the healthcare sector such as TeleHealth, offers a model that maintains client confidentiality while increasing accessibility and availability to the client. Legal tech has the potential to make legal information more readily available to the general public, increase the ease of interpretation and reduce the costs attributed to accessing legal support and counsel.

Research published in the ‘Tech for the Legal Sector in Africa 2020’ report by Brussels-based legal information provider Afriwise, found that “69.4% of law firms surveyed thought that their country’s legal sector needed transforming, and 77.5% believe that the COVID-19 pandemic will produce some form of change.” With an industry ready and receptive to change, our analysts took a closer look to see how Africa’s legal tech entrepreneurs have approached this challenge.

43 LegalTech companies in Africa

Our research indicated that the many of company headquarters were focussed across four geographies; South Africa (26%), Kenya (19%), Nigeria (16%) and Uganda (11%) accounting for almost three quarters of the companies identified. Solutions were divided between those that helped with access to legal support and justice, and those offering more commercially focussed solutions such as Algeria-based, Legal Doctrine, who are using artificial intelligence to provide a searchable legal database of cases for practitioners, and Egyptian-based, Barreau, a cloud based legal case management and communication tool.

In addition to more commercially-focussed solutions, legal technology has an important role to play in helping to further extend legal empowerment to the general population. He Lawyer a Benin-based legal tech provides advisory services via SMS and phone, and Ufulu Wanga, a human rights advocacy platform uses digital technology to both educate and raise human rights issues is Malawi. Additionally in our recent PropTech market map, we highlighted how technology companies are helping to disambiguate legal contracts, for example Ghanaian land management solution BenBen, employs blockchain to help maintain a record of land ownership thereby helping to settle disputes.

Improving accessibility and availability of the legal profession is extremely important. However, to the untrained, understanding complex legalese can become a high barrier. Technology can have an important role to play in helping the general public to also increase their understanding. Creative Contracts for example, has developed a system for turning legally binding contracts into comic strips with visual and audio guides, ensuring both parties are aware of expectations and duties without the requirement of legal training, the ability to read or write or even speak the same language.

A shift to a more connected and collaborative legal ecosystem?

Some large incumbents in the African legal sector have come under criticism for being slow to adopt new technologies, especially when placed in contrast to the digital innovation we’ve seen across the financial sector in Africa. However, according to the ‘Innovation and Legal Tech in Africa 2019’ report, “the growing advocacy movement pressuring legislature and regulators to innovate and implement more progressive laws and policies has not gone unheard.” This has resulted in the “National bar associations and regulators increasingly coming to the table, supporting and participating in legal technology conferences, innovation hubs and hackathons.”


Graph showing the extent to which Africa Law Firms agree that COVID-19 will increase technology adoption in their organisation

Source: Afriwise

Examples of this include the law firm Hogan Lovells helping sponsor the first Global Legal Hackathon hosted in South Africa in 2018, and more recently Anajrwalla & Khanna, the largest corporate law firm in Eastern Africa, launching a dedicated Legal Tech Incubator in partnership with Microsoft. With the industry expectation that COVID-19 will accelerate the adoption of digital solutions, it is likely we can expect a continued increase in the collaboration between start-ups and the wider legal ecosystem. Good news for, law firms, governments, start-ups and the general public alike.

Know someone building great LegalTech in Africa? Let us know if we have missed anyone from our LegalTech technology map.

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This article was first published in December 2020.