Revolutionary new service Absolute Barrister offers legal advice straight from a barrister to your phone.

Absolute Barrister has been making waves in the legal work and since launch has been featured in The Times, The Independent, The Mirror and The Daily Mail. Founder Katy Gittins tells us more...

As practising barristers we began to think that the legal market in the UK was broken and based more upon justifying the outmoded hourly rates of the ‘big law’ model than it was on putting the actual human with the real-life problem first. Fixing legal issues took too long, no one was using tech to help deliver the solution, and there was no certainty of cost (which is so completely ridiculous – how can you possibly not know the finite cost of something!). And so Absolute Barrister was born to deliver our mission: access to justice, at a fixed cost, for absolutely everyone. How do we do it? We deliver fixed-cost unbundled legal advice and representation by expert barristers and we use some very cool bespoke tech to help do it so that now, finally, using law is modern and as easy to use as social media on your smartphone.

What was the inspiration for the site?

The real crunch moment came in a real-life case in Croydon Magistrates’ Court. I had just won a trial for someone facing some driving matters, and so I asked the client for his costs so that I could ask for a costs award in his favour. As a pupil I was being paid fifty pounds for the day’s trial, or thereabouts. The client had paid over £2000. It was absolutely shocking – there was no link between the amount paid and the value received. Following a change in the law allowing clients direct access to barristers, we got very excited about how we could fix the problem and unite the people who need help with the expert barrister who can help in a completely different way. That excitement remains every single day and we are quite sure we have the best jobs. Ever!

When did you launch the site?

We launched in 2014, but, of course there is no rest for the wicked! We have been constantly developing new tech ever since, and will always continue to lead the way in #lawtech. In our latest release (see Legal IT insider), actually like the one before it, we designed the dashboard and UX with the client at the centre. Most legal tech is sold to law firms with lawyers as the end user; not so with us. Clients can flick from case to case and share documents or message their barrister from wherever in the world they may be, instantly. We continue to add features like indexing and search for text within pictures.

What are your greatest challenges?

We first tried doing this in 2011 and everyone thought we were bonkers. The market was not ready. Most barristers could not do direct access cases, it all sounded a bit wacky; we had difficulty placing a single case with a single barrister. But we knew we had the answer. So we bided our time and in 2014– boom! We now work with nearly forty different chambers and over 300 barristers: in fact we have a waiting list. We also have two small kids and an office Labrador, and whilst there are moments when it can feel a bit like planning world dominance at the same time as persuading the kids that in fact green grapes are just as lovely as purple grapes (with said dog lurking around just trying to eat everything) – and this before any caffeine has been consumed – we would not have it any other way!

What's your background?

So, you know already that we’re both barristers. We actually met at Bar School when I was the victim of Simon’s cross-examination in a mock trial! I’m a criminal defence barrister by trade. Simon wears slightly more hats and before he was a barrister he patented business methods for the insurance industry. Oh, and he builds robots. True! You know most people have flowers and sweet little ornaments on their windowsills… we have robots!

Who do you admire in business?

Elon Musk, Aaron Swartz, Steve (Jobs and Woz): those who believe they can actually change the world do.

Please recommend a website and / or app that helps you promote or run your business or that you simply couldn't live without

Xero. By far the best accounting software. The best thing is, if you’re into tech, there’s lots of cool stuff you can do with it.

What is the best piece of business advice you've been given?

You don’t fail. It’s when stuff goes wrong that you realise the bits that work, and how best to move forwards. So, rub the bruises and get straight back at it. Well, that, and an episode of Scooby Doo will buy you precisely 21 minutes of no children. So, work fast!

What is your motto?

Cost effective access to expert legal advice for everyone. (Did I say that already?!). After all, if you can’t enforce your rights, then what’s the point in having them.

Where do you see the business going from here?

We are already lucky enough to have helped thousands of people in legal difficulty – from divorce and child contact cases to protracted commercial disputes, and from speeding offences to cross-jurisdictional cases about oil spills. We will continue to automate using advanced tech, artificial intelligence and legal data. With some very slick tech releases imminent and an absolutely enormous marketplace to continue to disrupt, we predict that Absolute Barrister is poised for great things. And in real terms, the terms that matter, we get to help more people with their legal problems. We are not delivering what exists in a more advanced way, we are delivering what has never existed before in the most advanced way.

September 2017