KUALA LUMPUR: We all get by with a little help from our friends - and this applies to lawyers too. Just ask Fahri Azzat, the man behind Locum Legalis, a free application which is taking the Malaysian legal scene by storm.
The app allows lawyers to get in touch with each other to call in favours like running mentions on behalf of each other and other routine attendances in court.
“Sometimes we have cases in other states and have to fly over just to attend a mention. It takes up a lot of time and costs money. My other alternative is that I can ask another lawyer in that area to turn up for me, which will only cost between RM100 and RM150.
“But I don’t want to waste time calling 20-30 firms to ask if anyone is free to do this favour, so I simplified the process by coming up with Locum Legalis,” he said.
Sometimes referred to as “Uber for lawyers”, the app lists all civil and industrial courts in Malaysia.
Lawyers can input details such as time, date, location and the nature of the appearance as well as how much they are offering in restitution for the mention on behalf.
“You can use it to look for lawyers in other states, or even in the same state if you’re busy. Obviously it’s not for contested hearings, but for routine attendances, it can be a very useful,” said Fahri.
Available on Google Play and the App Store, Locum Legalis saw about RM5,000 worth of transactions in December and has received rave reviews from its users.
“This is not a profit-driven thing, I’m glad a lot of people have liked it and use it regularly,” said the self-confessed gadget freak.
Known for his work on the Deepa custody case and the Irshad Manji book ban issue, Fahri, 40, first came up with the idea in 2009 and wanted to launch it as a website, but couldn’t find people to develop it.
“It never got off the ground. But in 2014, I met up with a friend, Azra Maxwell, and told him about my idea. He came up with a prototype and by November 2015, we launched the app.”
Locum Legalis is strictly for use by lawyers. Fahri will not allow pupils or personal assistants to use the app, partly due to the potential for abuse and also because he wants it to be a catalyst for communication.
“I want lawyers to engage with each other. We have to talk to each other. It builds camaraderie. When you talk, it’s easier to be civil and face each other as friends. We are here to solve people’s problems, not to get into fights, so we shouldn’t be antagonistic,” he said, adding that the app was his way of giving back to the fraternity.
A solo practitioner, Fahri used himself as a guinea pig for Locum Legalis and realised that many small firm and new lawyers were interested in the app.
“Smaller firms can’t afford to hire many staff members, while for younger lawyers who stand in as locum, it can be their bread and butter when they are starting out,” he added.
And this is just the beginning, as Fahri hopes to continue developing legal support services using technology.