Regina Bondarenko talks about Legaltech in UA and PL

Regina Bondarenko: I live in kyiv, as we like to say, “the capital of great people”. The war changed everything. First of all, you can’t predict anything, not even my arrival in Warsaw. On Tuesday, June 1, I was supposed to leave my house for the train at 9:35 p.m., but at 9:10 p.m. the theft alarm went off. Within 10 minutes I had to decide whether to stay and cancel my trip or take a risk and walk across the bridge to the station. I am in Warsaw and as you can see I made the right decision, but on May 4 the people of the Dnieper were not so lucky.

War also changes priorities. Whereas before the war I worked on more commercial projects, now we do a lot of social projects. Before the war, Kyiv Legal Hacker (a community of lawyers and developers working to improve access to justice) planned various events, now aimed at legal assistance for Ukrainians, for example, we prepare guides for Ukrainian lawyers and a Legal Tech meeting for startups who want to help Ukrainians in other countries. EU lawyers are helping us to build a database of information, a Ukrainian lawyer is supporting us. Project planning also changed a lot – I really started to see my death or the death of a team member as a risk to the project. Even though we are in one city. For example, one of my team members lived 7 km from the target of the last rocket, another saw it from a window. That’s why we all know everything about our work so that we can replace each other.

Pravoman is a platform that automates legal assistance using a chatbot. Pravoman analyzes questions, provides answers on many platforms (Telegram, Viber, Facebook, iOS, Android apps and website chat), organizes consultations, generates about 40 documents, e.g. tax group selection request , rental agreement, purchase and sale , automates the sending of requests to various systems (database, registers, etc.), retrieves data from official Open Data registers. However, it all started with the chatbot Pravomen. While creating it, we realized that it could be used more widely. I hope that in the future, all public services dealing with law will be able to offer such digital assistance to citizens.

The war once again showed the importance of LegalTech, but it also created a new trend. Technology, including legal technology, helps collect and systematize information, but also provides direct legal support. Legal Tech products, such as OpenDatabot (monitoring of official data), Taxer (tax and declaration management service), Pravoman (digital legal assistance to individuals and small businesses), Bot & Partners (automation of document flows for law firms) lawyers) have become a huge support for Ukrainians. Although in a few months, the business will probably be at the center of Legaltech’s attention again, because it will also need help.

What do the apps you mentioned do?

OpenDatabot – stores copies of official data to help people obtain evidence in the event that open data registers have been destroyed as a result of the war, help identify companies of Russian origin, rebuild the register of notaries who are active and remain in Ukraine. Taxer provides assistance with war-related tax matters and wartime tax preferences. Bot & Partners helps volunteers automate their paperwork, manage their business, and focus on work, not paperwork. I mentioned Pravoman before, but now he also provides free legal aid to refugees. First of all, the application that I did not mention before is the most important. It is Diia, which has become the main channel of communication between citizens and the state.

Diia is one of LegalTech’s most successful solutions. Launched in 2020, the app allows Ukrainian citizens to use digital documents on their smartphones for identification purposes. It therefore replaces traditional documents. In addition, the Diia portal provides access to more than 50 government services. In practice, Diia provides identity documents which may prove to be the only ones in the event of a bombing or a house fire. Diia also makes it possible to apply for financial aid, to register as an internal refugee, to report material damage due to the war, but also to watch television and listen to the radio. This last feature is especially important for the inhabitants of the occupied part of Ukraine. In addition, the Ministry of Digital Transformation is adding more and more new functions.

Do you see something in Ukrainian LegalTech that is not available in Poland and vice versa?

I am unable to objectively answer this question as I do not have full knowledge of Polish legal technologies. In Ukraine, however, we have free access to many registers, which allows us to offer solutions for verifying data and contractors, for example ClarityProject (analysis of contractors based on registers and history bidding), Youcontrol (building a real estate network, registration, modifying data in registers and creating forecasts about the company, entrepreneur, consumer), the OpenDatabot project “Babusiy” helps to analyze court decisions, check our tax affairs, but also fines, court and real estate cases.

In Poland, I see a trend in the field of personal data protection, document generation and management process support. In my opinion, Ukrainian products try to replace a lawyer, they address the client (B2C model) and in Poland, technology helps a lawyer (B2B model). I think this is due to the wealth of the society and the cost of accessing a lawyer. Ukrainians tend to solve legal problems without a lawyer, in Poland it may be the other way around.

Poles are also reluctant to use a lawyer, and they often report to him too late. You participated in LH2022, saw young Polish lawyers and programmers. Do you see any differences between them and your Ukrainian colleagues?

Even though the Ukrainian market has similar problems to the Polish market, the way Ukrainian and Polish innovators think about solutions is completely different. In Ukraine, we more often introduce our own product to the market and try to make it better than the competition. The hubs are looking for add-on-based solutions, so many teams during LH2022 developed plug-in ideas. However, this observation made me think differently about my own business. It is easier to establish contact with a customer who already uses a certain product, it shortens the path to it. Either way, that’s why Ukraine loves chatbots.

I also see other differences. For 5 years at Kyiv Legal Hackers Hackathons we had no email related solution. It’s the same in Ukraine, where we almost never use email in our daily lives. As you can see, mindset differences matter when creating LegalTech products. Therefore, it is very good that the legal communities are starting to exchange experiences, because in this way it will be easier to internationalize our ideas.

Wojciech Rafał Wiewiórowski, Grzegorz Wierczyński

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How did you like our Legal Hackathon?

I am very happy to have been able to be both a mentor and a speaker. I am happy to have been able to see the Ukrainian participants, as well as the way Poles and Ukrainians are working together for the idea. The participants were very well prepared and the organizers created good conditions for them to work. I do not hide that I am happy with the victory of the Ukrainian internet team #WeAreUkrainians. Despite technical difficulties, air raids and even a morning missile attack on Kyiv, the team managed to find a very practical and important problem to solve. This is to obtain force majeure certificates. Currently in Ukraine it is war, but a major force is also a storm, a flood, the Covid. Confirming a fact already known to everyone is a bureaucratic ordeal for companies, and not only in Ukraine. I hope that our state will also support this initiative and that soon Ukrainian companies, as well as our importers, will be able to receive these certificates through the electronic certificate system.

How do you rate the other ideas?

All the ideas were very practical, I like that no one is working on the “monster ideas” that would cost the million dollars. All participants thought pragmatically, tried to solve specific problems, and truly created a startup, not just an idea. After the awards ceremony, I discovered that each team continued to work after the Hackathon. We have many startups in Ukraine trying to solve similar problems. For example, there is an application “Засідання” (Court Session) to help you manage all court cases, notify changes of sessions, cases, etc. We also have Axdraft to help you build a contract and analyze partners (summary, changes and tips), Legal design which creates projects and simplifies legal documents (invoices, contracts, etc.).

This year, the jury pointed out that Legal Hackaton is important, because without this competition, the world of Polish LegalTech would be worse. Does LegalTech matter, what role do legal technologies play in economics and politics?

For me, legal technologies play three important roles. First, they inform you of the law. We all know that ignorance of the law is harmful, but it doesn’t have to be. The state, on the one hand, guarantees our security, on the other hand, it enforces the law. At the same time, however, the rules are so complex and dependent on conditions that understanding them is a huge challenge. It looks like a game of life whose rules we don’t know. LegalTech helps you know these rules, so it helps you win. I must stress here that I admire the way the Ukrainian Ministry of Digitization is rethinking public services to make their use painless for users.

Second, technologies enable the development of a civic community. With one or two clicks, you can submit a complaint about anything that interests you. As a result, citizens’ participation in public life is increasing. The technology also helps control power. Open registers, databases containing court decisions, tenders and local budgets are public and therefore more transparent.

Third, technology facilitates friendly globalization, buying a classic car abroad, starting a business outside your own country. The options are there, but the biggest challenge is changing the rules. If successful, LegalTech will help you adapt to each country. This can already be seen in the example of refugees from Ukraine

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