Postcard from Argentina

In our new series, Legal Geek speaks to members of the legal community from outside the #LegalTech heartlands. Our first postcard comes from Argentina.

“In Argentina, the legal industry is really traditional and gaining access to information is not easy for clients,” explains Juan Astibia, the co-founder and practice leader of LegalTech start-up MODO.

“If asked by clients how cases are progressing, lawyers only say things like ‘everything is OK’, or ‘the case is moving forward’.

“You tend to see lawyers hiding information from clients. It’s not how I would want information to be managed if I were the client.

“When we started MODO we wanted to be different and to be able to say to our clients ‘you can access your case here’ and ‘you can see how it’s all going here’.”

This desire to be different is what led Astibia – a Deloitte lawyer for 12 years in Buenos Aires – to tear himself away from big corporate law and start his own firm.

Juan Astibia
Juan Astibia, MODO Co-Founder & Practice Leader

Guiding Astibia and his MODO team into new waters was a determination that lawyers needed to be more accountable and open with their clients.

“Our aim was to reengineer professional practice and be very close to our clients because that’s what other law firms in Argentina weren’t offering,” explained Astiba. “We wanted to be available by phone, by email, and to be able to adapt to their meetings and timings, which is very important for them. This approach we combined with the principle of keeping things as simple as possible.

Before setting up MODO, Astibia had been responsible for building the Tax Controversy Practice at Deloitte in Buenos Aires.

“When I was at Deloitte, we did start to discuss changes and how software could help us do this but I realised that I couldn’t implement all the changes I wanted.”

In March 2015, MODO was founded along with Astibia’s fellow Deloitte colleagues Juan Manuel de Cabo, Martin Jándula and Luis María Flores Gimenez, with the name MODO reflecting the new way the quartet would approach legal services in the Argentine market [‘modo’ meaning ‘way’ in Spanish].

The companies’ three guiding principles are to ‘be close, be simple and be smart.’ It’s an approach which has brought more than 50 clients in three years and allowed the company to grow to 15 people in all (10 lawyers, 2 engineers, and 3 student interns). MODO’s operations are supported by technology, namely MODO Share – a platform that enables MODO’s clients to access real-time information about their projects in a confidential and secure way and to communicate with the lawyers assigned to their case directly.

This year, MODO are taking technology and law to the next level in Argentina by creating a new business division, MODO Tech, which offers integrated LegalTech solutions to existing clients and other companies.

In an under-developed LegalTech market, MODO’s approach is truly disruptive and they don’t have any designs of slowing down either with Astibia’s eyes trained on becoming the LegalTech market leader in Argentina and in South America at large.

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