OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Eliminating the law profession with an intelligent, flowchart-based legal system (version 2.0)

Most entrepreneurial legal needs are standard--whether it's forms to file or counsel. This concept proposes a system which steps entrepreneurs through legal issues to create forms or receive appropriate counsel.

Photo of James Moyer
53 35

Written by

The main goal of this concept is to eliminate the need for paying attorneys when an entrepreneur is setting up a business. For this to occur a complete, well-maintained, intuitive website is required: entrepreneurs are guided through the requirements step-by-step to solve their legal conundrums, or create the legal forms required. I propose calling this system LawMaster. 

When a situation is unique (and unsolvable by LawMaster) the system can forward the problem to an attorney as required. 

As explained below, the more information and detail LawMaster collects, the more comprehensive its abilities become. 

How will your concept support web entrepreneurship?

Legal issues scare away potential entrepreneurs, and legal costs are a significant barrier to entrepreneurship. A fully automated, free site which easily and quickly helps with even fairly complex legal problems would make it significantly easier for entrepreneurs to concentrate on their businesses.

What kinds of resources will be needed to get this concept off the ground and scale it?

This requires pretty substantial investment. Each EU jurisdiction would have to contribute significantly: a legal team investigates countless legal issues which an entrepreneur would encounter. A system is setup to triage those legal issues so that they can be implemented step-by-step on the LawMaster system. The system is maintained to take into account new laws, procedures, legal cases and scenarios. A nifty side benefit is that the legal issues suffered by entrepreneurs will be catalogued in an efficient way. The information gained from that database can be used to simplify and improve the legal environment for entrepreneurs in the various EU jurisdictions (particularly where standardization across jurisdictions is possible.) This idea is actually rather revolutionary for government. While there are minor/localized situations of governments offering minor legal assistance (in non-criminal defense situations) this concept would be a comprehensive legal offering for governments.

How could we get started?

This project can be started either by individual EU members or done centrally by the EC. (Some of its benefits are obtained by long term centralization.) LawMaster Evolution 1 begins with learning the ecology of start-ups' legal lives. Those lives begin with business incorporation documents, continuing through the day to day or disaster to disaster legal filings that an entrepreneur would encounter. We do this by amassing an absurd collection of documents. We collate and scan them in. When they are catalogued, we are able to find patterns that represent start-ups legal needs. This "legal ecology" is transferred over to a database which indexes the information so we have lovely meta-data explaining the legal environment for start-ups: 99% of business start-ups in Elbonia begin with form Q ("Declaring my start-up's name") which is followed in 46% of instances by form Q1 ("Locating my start-up's name becase I forgot it") and in 6 months another 23% of businesses file form K ("Firing the owner of a start-up because he's a lazy bum.") 14% of Elbonian entrepreneurs end up suing themselves for severance pay after they fire themselves. We can then compare this to how other countries work, and improve on the experience in all. Now with the index, we can build the "LawMaster" website, which is a hybrid of a software wizard combined with a set of flowcharts: asking key questions to triage needs, showing next and future steps and then returning results. In summary, here are the key features of LawMaster Evolution 1: *Collection and cataloguing of legal documents related to entrepreneurship *Easy to understand interface which explains start-up legal requirements and consequences *Form wizard for creating legal documents for start-ups, with the potential for filing those forms electronically *Collection of statistics regarding business formation for comparison from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so that policymakers can understand what works and doesn't work well For a sample introduction to LawMaster, examine the Introduction document. To get an idea of how an entrepreneur may experience LawMaster while setting up a business, examine the Evolution 1 document. LawMaster Evolution 2A takes the entrepreneur past the filing into the day to day legal needs of a running business. I talk about this as an second "Evolution" because LawMaster will have to take in considerably more information and grow in sophistication to handle the post-start-up business. Here are the key features of LawMaster Evolution 2A: *Using a wizard to ask questions to triage a legal problem. In the Evolution 2 example, a business owner is dealing with a company which hasn't paid an invoice. LawMaster asks key questions to figure out what is the appropriate course of action (continue normal collections or file a law suit.) *If a law suit is determined appropriate, LawMaster can then create the document and file it with the court. To see an idea of how this might work, see the Evolution 2A .pdf. Evolution 2B allows the defendant receiving the legal complaint to triage potential answers to the complaint (such as the invoice was indeed paid or the company has filed for bankrupty) and potentially file a response to the court. Moreover, LawMaster could also explain potential outcomes of various choices the defendant may make (such as not answering, or countersuing, or paying the bill partially.) LawMaster Evolution 3 answers the question--if LawMaster knows about the unpaid invoice, can triage and file a suit in a court, and then triage and file a response, why couldn't the system simply act as a go-between? LawMaster could inform the company who hasn't paid the invoice that the company waiting for payment has a strong legal case, and that a settlement may be advisable, and here are potential settlement scenarios based on information the company owing money feeds LawMaster. If this should fail, LawMaster could potentially act as an arbitrator between the two sides. LawMaster Evolution 4 asks if LawMaster can act as an arbitrator could it also act as a court of law? At least a lower court certainly. Finally, LawMaster Evolution 5 gains fuzzy legal artificial intelligence. Individuals could ask hypothetically complex questions such as LawMaster can then navigate the complex intersecting laws, obligations, and ethical issues presented by such a scenario and offer reasonable counsel. I've includes Evolutions 3, 4 and 5 not because they directly answer the problems of this challenge in an immediate way (though they certainly would be wonderful for an entrepreneur) but because they show the long-term potential of such an system, and the enormous gains that can be made from an investment. The technology for such a system is available now.

Virtual Team:

I couldn't thank Paul Reader enough for his work in creating the sample LawMaster screens. Many good innovations occurred within those documents. It couldn't have been done without him, or at the very least, it would have been much more painful and inconvenient for me. :) Vanessa W. also helped with some interesting thoughts regarding UX design.

Evaluation results

12 evaluations so far

1. How well does this concept address a significant pain point felt by European web start-ups?

This is a major pain point for European start-ups - 91.7%

This is a "nice to have" but not a serious pain point - 8.3%

I really don't know - 0%

2. How novel do you think the concept is?

Never seen it before - very novel! - 50%

This is common in some places but not in many parts of Europe - 33.3%

This is not novel but a good iteration - 16.7%

There are already other solutions out there that address this problem - 0%

3. How easy is this concept to implement and maintain?

It could be implemented quickly and easily maintained - 8.3%

It could be implemented quickly but will require regular updates to ensure it is accurate and relevant - 16.7%

It is a big undertaking and would need a lot of support and cooperation from people and organisations to make it happen and to maintain it - 75%

4. What type of organisation is best placed to take this forward?

The European Commission should own this one - 50%

This belongs with member state governments (e.g., the UK, Belgium, etc) - 0%

This is best being owned by a private company - 8.3%

This feels like a non-profit - 8.3%

This is a start-up itself! - 33.3%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

It rocked my world! - 75%

I liked it but preferred others - 16.7%

It didn’t get me overly excited - 8.3%

View more

Attachments (3)


LawMaster Evolution 1 sample


LawMaster Evolution 2A sample (collecting on an invoice)


LawMaster Introduction


Join the conversation:


Hey James,

Thanks for sharing such great post. This is very helpful to many of the readers like me, who owns a startup comany.
I started a startup of Accounting and Bookkeeping services named as, Impanix( And very new to this startup market.
This article helps me in growing my business globally.

View all comments