Legal Advice Middle East, the legal technology startup from Dubai, UAE, has been selected as a winner of the 2016 Innovating Justice Award by the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL).

After 450 applications from legal tech startups around the world and a challenging 4-month process of selection, the HiiL Justice Accelerator have announced winners of the 2016 Innovating Justice Award. Ten startups from across eight countries have been selected in three categories. Legal Advice Middle East, the first online legal services marketplace in the region, has become an Award winner in the SME Empowerment Challenge category. The Challenge encourages the use of modern technology and innovations to address the worldwide need for more accessible legal assistance and advice.

Legal Advice Middle East is a startup founded by a Dubai-based female entrepreneur Suzanna Kalendzhian. A lawyer herself, she created an innovative platform that connects consumers and lawyers across the Middle East by allowing them to find, communicate and transact with each other online. At Legal Advice Middle East, consumers can access the legal information, advice and assistance they need, while lawyers can effectively promote themselves by showing their expertise and knowledge to prospective clients.

“The Middle East is a unique region,” says Suzanna Kalendzhian. “It is a $10 billion legal services market, composed of more than 15 thousand law firms, 100 thousand lawyers and almost half a billion people and SMEs in the region. There is no effective, trusted way for them to find, communicate and transact with each other online. The penetration of Internet technologies in the Middle East is still at very low level. This creates an opportunity for innovations, like our platform.”

According to the United Nations, the Middle East has the highest level of immigration in the world. Out of the total region’s population of more than 400 million people, more than 30 million are expats. Moreover, in the Middle East there are 4 countries (UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain) where foreigners constitute the majority of population. High diversity and mobility of the region’s population trigger the demand for online solutions that connect people seeking legal advice and assistance with lawyers who are ready to help them.

“As a lawyer myself, I can say that the best way to get new clients is to show that you can effectively solve their legal issues,” Suzanna says. “Legal Advice Middle East does exactly this! On our platform, participating attorneys show their expertise, establish reputation and build trust with prospective clients. We took a globally proven idea and used our local expertise to adapt it for the Middle Eastern market. As a result, our platform is region-specific and supports the unique set of features.”

For consumers, Legal Advice Middle East provides online multilingual access to:
• A unique lawyers directory, which simplifies researching, comparing and contacting local law firms and lawyers;
• Free initial advice and assistance from lawyers through public Q&A, live chat, or callback requests;
• A wide range of region-specific legal information, including a law database, legal blogs and articles, a legal dictionary and answers from lawyers for similar questions.

For participating attorneys and law firms, Legal Advice Middle East provides a platform for effective online promotion, lead generation, and rendering legal services online. It is a win-win solution for both lawyers and law firms – participating lawyers not only acquire new clients for the law firms through the platform, but also build their personal profiles. This could be a great asset for their career building as well as for potential employers and recruiters.

As an Innovating Justice Award winner, Legal Advice Middle East will participate in the HiiL Justice Accelerator, which will support, advise, and monitor the startup’s work towards making the innovation sustainable and impactful. Also, the startup founders will have an opportunity to pitch their innovation before an international audience at the Innovating Justice Forum in The Hague on the 2nd of December this year.

“We would like to thank HiiL for their support and an amazing opportunity to share our ideas with the world,” says Suzanna Kalendzhian. “We truly believe in what we do and will continue to innovate, transforming the way people in the Middle East can get legal help they need.”