In October, 2002, the founders of SoftLaw devised several concepts that would see the legal field embrace information technology in its core activities.
Having one foot in Kenyan law and another in information technology, the founders were perhaps the most well placed persons in the country to take the initiative.
SoftLaw began its planning and financing in earnest late October, 2002 which saw the founders consult widely amongst lawyers and information technologists and businessmen. The first movement into production of its first product, a CD with all the laws of Kenya (SoftLaw Statutes) begun on the 13th of December, 2002. Production of this product ran for eleven months. The official date of completion following thorough testing and real on-site deployment was done on 11th November, 2003.
SoftLaw had by then already begun efforts in the production of an extensive upgrade of SoftLaw Statutes (SoftLaw Citator). The official “begin date” for SoftLaw Citator was July, 2003. SoftLaw Citator was a manifestation of the many client-communications that SoftLaw had received while it deployed testing versions of the SoftLaw Statutes in client machines. SoftLaw Citator’s development proceeded through the Christmas holidays until January 5th 2004 when its production officially ended. After the launch of SoftLaw Citator, the SoftLaw Statutes offering was discontinued.
After a successful run of the SoftLaw Citator product in 2004 and backed by strong public demand SoftLaw launched LawsofKenya.com – an online version of the laws of Kenya – on December 11, 2004. LawsofKenya.com was an instant success and its easy pay-per-use model ensured that SoftLaw remained the market leader in the provision of online legal resources.
In 2005, SoftLaw tapped its extensive data entry resources and experience gained in the production of the laws of Kenya and launched a data solutions division. The division steadily grew as large clients engaged it for their data entry work. In 2006 the division was renamed Genius Outsourcing, and added the services of software development, transcription, language editing and training to its stable.
Also in 2005 SoftLaw licensed its specially formatted laws of Kenya data to the Judiciary through the National Council for Law Reporting and to a legal publishing house..
In August 2005 SoftLaw setup a concept that had been the dream of its entrepreneurial founders, Genius Executive Centre. The concept that was drawn-up on a Monday, advertised on a Wednesday, and got its first client on a Friday was extremely well received. Genius Executive Centre (GEC), a novel concept in Kenya, provides furnished and serviced office workstations on a flat-monthly fee to its members. GEC notched thirty clients in its first month (a 60% occupancy rate), a remarkable achievement. GEC has never looked back since and remains the market leader.
The new offering GEC generated quite a buzz and the press eagerly published and broadcast the story behind Genius, SoftLaw and its founders. SoftLaw and Genius subsequently received generous press coverage in TV, radio and press.
SoftLaw continued in its pursuit of innovative products in 2006. Realizing idle capacity of Genius Executive Centre at night, SoftLaw converted it into a business processing outsourcing centre under its Genius Outsourcing division. Genius Outsourcing made brisk business and had soon signed on two major clients. Transcription training was soon added as a service under Genius Outsourcing as overwhelming BPO orders outstripped existing human resources. Genius Outsourcing remains a fantastic growth area for SoftLaw Limited and a key focus.
SoftLaw’s efforts at promoting entrepreneurship through GEC were quickly noticed. GEC was made the subject of a case study by Strathmore Business School in conjuction with IESE university. GEC is also a participating member in the Intellectual Property segment of an Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property training program by the World Bank. GEC was represented as a panelist (as a specialist in non-financial business services) in a business creation programme run by TechnoServe, an international organization that helps entrepreneurs build businesses. GEC also presented a paper at a workshop called Business Incubation Initiatives in Kenya organized by KeKobi. GEC organized a tour of its premises by staff members from the Technology and Business Incubation Facility (TBIF) incubator from Kigali Rwanda. SoftLaw continues to work with entrepreneurs by sourcing financiers for startups, consulting on entrepreneurs business plans, and giving free consulting to GEC members through its Genius Capital and Consulting arm.
September 1 2006, marked a new dawn for SoftLaw’s LawsofKenya.com website. As a measure of corporate social responsibility, the “laws of Kenya” section was opened up to the public by removing the access costs. The re-designed site was launched with two new services: Find-a-Lawyer, and Get-a-Client. The new services marked a shift in the LawsofKenya.com business model from merely providing information to being a tool to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the legal profession. The two services were been positively received.
SoftLaw continues its spirit of innovation and promises to deliver high-quality business solutions to its clients in the years to come.