Developing Locum Legalis / by Max Azaham

Locum Legalis is an app inspired by my best friend since secondary school. Fahri and I created this app to serve the legal community in Malaysia. The purpose of the app is to connect lawyers to each other in order to fulfill a Mention On Behalf (MOB). MOB is a court appearance by a lawyer on behalf of another.

We crafted the app from a user's perspective through Fahri's lens as a lawyer. Lawyers often need to travel outstation for a brief court hearing that another local lawyer can perform as expediently. Fahri would prefer not having to call around just to enquire if a lawyer has an availability in his or her court schedule. Furthermore, many lawyers today often have no choice but to make overnight trips because they cannot find a suitable Locum.

Fahri and I began sketching out an app in August 2014. We soon began coding to create a prototype iPhone app and secure back-end server to store user information and MOB requests. As we went through iterations, we faced issues we had not previously considered. But we also uncovered new methods for certain functions.

In the app, users are asked to provide full names and bar council numbers so we can verify that all users are members of the Malaysian Bar. Once a lawyer is verified, he or she can submit requests and accept MOB requests posted by other lawyers.

We realised late in our development phase that a chat feature would be essential to allow lawyers to exchange important details. Through chat, lawyers can brief each other before and after the court hearing, and exchange documents through Dropbox. We decided to add a payment feature in Chat so that a MOB requestor can make payment to the counter-party using a credit card or Apple Pay. The result is a seamless experience for lawyers. The process of searching, contracting and paying for a MOB can now be performed entirely through the Locum Legalis app.

Additionally, we added a tracking feature for payments made and received. Soon, we will provide users with the option to collect GST through the app, should they wish. These are additional features which we feel will improve the user experience.

A little more than a year after our first sketches, we have now published Locum Legalis apps for iPhone, iPad and most recently Android. We anticipate expansion of the community through Android will improve the rate and swiftness of matching lawyers to MOB requests.