There are currently over 7,246,835 horses in the US. Horses are bought and sold, maintained and cared for, and there are many regulations surrounding them. Read about how Chris Gottfried is automating equine law.
There are currently over 7,246,835 horses in the United States. To put that into perspective, there are 13 horses for every person who lives in Wyoming. The equine industry is akin to the car industry. Horses are bought and sold, maintained and cared for, and there are many regulations surrounding them. While cars have seen great advancements over the last century, horses, well, they’ve stayed relatively the same. Similarly, many of the legal processes in the equine industry have also been stuck in the past.
Horse.Law founder, Chris Gottfried, noticed a divide between horse owners and proper understanding of the law. So he sought to create a network of the best equine attorneys. The platform looks to “develop counsel relationships in strategic areas that are important to the horse industry,” he says.
Joining Chris on the journey is gigLAW founder Hayley Leviashvili. gigLAW is a “company that provides law firms and legal tech companies with legal intern level assistance on a virtual basis.” Horse.Law’s partnership with gigLaw brings forth an experienced background of handling a network of law practitioners and valuable knowledge into a niche market.
To bring it to life, Chris used Documate to streamline the automation process. To get a sneak peak at what they built before reading the interview below, check out the Horse.Law form creator here.
Documate “makes a lot of things easier internally, but it also aligns with the idea that we want folks in this industry who typically don't have a lot of resources and tools at their disposal from a legal perspective - we want to give them the opportunity to not only access the law, but to do it themselves.” he says, speaking of the way that they have been able to empower their customers.
Here, Hayley explains the current product offering at Horse.Law, and how that will transition:
We spoke to Chris and Hayley about the current operations and the larger vision they have for Horse.Law in the next few years:
The subject matter came about because it essentially is a family hobby in many ways. My wife and daughter ride horses and so we've sort of proceeded through the journey of getting into it, learning how to ride. The more I started learning about the equine industry from a legal sense, the more I realized there was a big gap in the market. So in one way, it's a very obviously small niche area, a very small subset of any sort of practice but at the same time, the horse industry itself is huge. There's thoroughbred racing, there are different kinds of horses and disciplines.
But holistically, unless you are a humongous, like well-known farm operation, the industry is made up of a lot of sole proprietors, individual trainers, a very small mom and pop kind of operation. They don't have a lot of legal representation because they don't have the resources and the money to pay high dollar attorneys to do this sort of thing. There's really no access or tools that they can use otherwise. A lot of times the transactions occurring in the industry are photocopied agreements that they've used over and over again.
A lot of times the transactions occurring in the industry are photocopied agreements that they've used over and over again.
We had the vision and the idea before the technology was implemented. We wanted to automate the legal process, but the underlying foundational element was getting really good contracts as templates. I want to get the best equine contract documents we can have so that we can just give them everything they can get the strongest documents from a contractual standpoint. I also want to do the state law research and the case law research to make sure we incorporate the right provisions and things in the contract because, if you're buying and selling a horse in Kansas, there are certain provisions you have to add that you might not need to add in Florida.
I want to get the best equine contract documents we can have. Then, differentiate ourselves further and develop a really cool, seamless platform that makes it easy for folks to do a lot of this stuff on their own.
To get started, we pulled templates from expert colleagues and templates we had used in the past to buy and sell our own horses. Then, the gigLAW team did a ton of research. Once we got the three basic areas that we wanted to build out, we started exploring the legal tech aspect because we were like “okay, let's now differentiate ourselves further and develop a really cool, seamless platform that makes it easy for folks to do a lot of this stuff on their own.”
Hayley explains how the gigLAW team helped build out the platform:
I didn't need to have a sense of ownership of playing lawyer. I want to be the facilitator and the developer of the platform - that’s where I am most fulfilled and I can make the biggest impact. In referring users out, I started talking to folks in various bar associations, and it was really hard to navigate and get a full understanding of the ethics rules around referral networks on their face because there are restrictions. We can't just essentially build a Yellow Pages of attorneys and charge people referral fees, because the ethics rules state that there has to be some type of relationship. I think where we are now is a little bit more of a hybrid . We operate at least strategically more as a law firm and develop that network of counsel relationships. And we still get the benefit of expanding our geographic network because we can develop of counsel relationships in strategic areas that are important to the horse industry.
Gosh, Documate makes a lot of things easier. It makes a lot of things easier internally, but it also aligns with the idea that we want folks in this industry who typically don't have a lot of resources and tools at their disposal from a legal perspective - we want to give them the opportunity to not only access the law, but to do it themselves.
A lot of the folks in the industry are, not surprisingly, more independent and tend to do things on their own. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps folks. It's great because Documate is so thorough, powerful and comprehensive, so you can craft it such that every time our end-user client uses it, it's like they have an attorney going step-by-step with them. That’s because the attorney who built it has had to go step by step - apply the waterfall logic, create those questions, and think about the process when they built the platform the first time.
Documate is so thorough, powerful and comprehensive…every time our client uses it, it's like they have an attorney going step-by-step with them. That’s because the attorney who built it has had to go step by step - apply the waterfall logic, create those questions, and think about the process when they built the platform.
All the work that you took to automate your documents - it doesn't become static. Then you have to go through this process all over again whenever there are updates to the law. In addition to the updates, which are easy to make, you guys at Documate are always making enhancements to the product that we can use to provide a better product to our customers. That's a big deal because of the peace of mind it creates on both sides. We focus our time and make everything more efficient. There's so much subject matter expertise embedded here. You know that your contracts are really strong and there's no sacrificing quality to try to fit it into a legal tech platform or automation because the platform is powerful.
With a niche area like this, Hayley also explains how to get the word out to the community to create a viral product.
I'm a huge soccer person. I grew up playing and coaching and I still religiously follow my teams over in Europe. When my friends and I get together at neighborhood outings, it's like, oh, did you watch the game? And it's like, no, I don't, I don't watch football. I watch my soccer games on Saturday and Sunday morning. I also worked for AFC Ajax (my favorite team)’s American affiliate in between college and law school. I coached in their youth academy and I also was a marketing assistant before I went to law school.
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