Going through any form of legal process and documentation can be exhausting and complicated for many Nepalis. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to visit legal offices, select specialized lawyers, explain your questions, get answers, and pay them.
Santosh Giri, Sanjaya Singh, and Aalok Subedi came up with a firm called SiliconHire and launched MeroAdda with the goal of fostering access to law, justice, and overall government affairs in Nepal through the use of technology in order to resolve this struggle and digitise the legal profession.
MeroAdda has already established itself as a pioneer in offering legal and administrative consulting services in Nepal, where such businesses are nearly unheard of.
What is MeroAdda?
Subedi elaborates. SiliconHire Pvt Ltd’s MeroAdda is one of their products. The SiliconHire Company established an online platform in Nepal that allows advocates to sign up and other individuals (service recipients) to ask legal questions anonymously and for free. They can also look for answers by searching for lawyers based on their areas of expertise or districts.
“Lawyers can also build a profile for free, and this platform enhances the chances of lawyers receiving more cases and businesses,” Subedi adds.
It also offers small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups professional services such as company registration, company closure, leasing agreement, design/patent/trademark registration, company renewal, and more. MeroAdda’s main source of income comes from this. This corporation also makes money by outsourcing legal processes.
Subedi explains, “As a self-sustaining firm, we have invested roughly Rs 15 million from the income itself to date.”
A common friend introduced Aalok Subedi to Santosh Giri, another co-founder of the company, in the United States in 2011. When they met, Giri was already working in the legal area. In 2014/15, the duo was joined by Sanjaya Singh, a technical veteran with years of experience.
“At that time, in the United States, we used to find many loopholes while conducting legal work because the majority of the job was done manually, making the method tedious,” Subedi recalls. As a result, many businesses used to put off regulatory compliance, only to be fined later.”
This situation presented them with an opportunity. They decided to concentrate on legal technologies and began their investigation. They discovered that there are just a handful companies working in this field around the world.
As a result, in 2012, they began by offering a compliance tool in the United States. They immediately applied for patents and trademarks, which they were granted.
“This gave us a lot of energy. This reinforced our opinion that this sector has a broader potential and that legal work that is currently done manually may be mechanized to strengthen it. We also created legal tech products/platforms to provide legal and HR services in parallel.”
After a few years, they considered extending to Nepal, but discovered that such services were not available in the motherland. As a result, Subedi went to Nepal in 2017 and began developing a legal digital platform that the general people could use. They also studied about Nepali laws, provisions, procedures, and legal works side by side. They went to law firms, met a lot of lawyers, and talked to a lot of people.
“On September 20, 2019, we officially launched Meroadda.com,” Subedi said.
According to Subedi, they titled this venture “MeroAdda” since many Nepalis refer to government offices as “adda.” At the same time, the majority of people perceive legal work to be both tedious and difficult. As a result, the word’mero’ is added to create a sense of proximity.
“As a new concept in the country, it was quite difficult to get the public, as well as the attorneys, to understand the idea of our platform in the early days,” Subedi says.
Although Nepal has a high internet penetration rate, technology literacy is extremely low. They didn’t get any questions at first. People started asking their questions on MeroAdda’s social media accounts and chatbox after a while, rather than through the website, because many people in Nepal aren’t used to it, Subedi adds.
“This wasn’t the only stumbling block. Many lawyers were hesitant to join us because the Nepal Bar Council’s code of conduct prohibits lawyers and advocates from advertising themselves in Nepal, and many questioned why they should answer for free.”
Getting Over Obstacles
Recognizing the difficulties, Subedi and his team set out to educate the general public and lawyers about the efficiency and importance of legal technology, as well as how it can be a win-win platform for both using social media platforms and visiting attorneys and law firms.
The team is focused on introducing more complex and automated legal tech services and solutions with low fees in the future. The company is also working on DIY contracts, law firm case management systems, and automated tools for tracking legal professional services.