How much do Egyptians know about their rights and laws? Not much, new legaltech startup Hekouky says.
In an Egypt ridden with sexual assault cases and a rising tide of citizens becoming more and more empowered to get their justice, accessibility and knowledge of Egyptian law is necessary more than ever. However, not everyone has a law degree or the time to read and deconstruct the law.
Hekouky, founded by lawyer Hala Riad, is a startup aiming to create a legal tech innovation to make the law accessible and answer people’s legal questions by connecting lawyers with clients and building an online community making their relationship easier to navigate.
Riad’s motivation to start Hekouky comes from her family that includes several lawyers.
“It was very clear to me from a very young age that the law is a tool that either makes you the most vulnerable person to problems, or it empowers you, and it makes you someone that is capable of being protected, taking on life’s challenges and excelling,” Riad told Egyptian Streets.
When Riad was studying in England, whenever she had a legal problem, such as a problem with her landlord, or if he would legally be able to evict her, she would google it, “the answers were clear cut.”
In Egypt, she says, it was quite different, that even with major legal problems, most people did not know what the law would say about them.
Riad would be in conversations with individuals who would say wrong facts and were using them as means to disempower other individuals or themselves.
The first step towards finding empowerment and protection in Egypt, she adds, is to know the law and is to take measures according to the law and according to what can create the best possible scenario in each individual case.
“That is the thing that made me want to start Hekouky, I really want everyone to be aware of the laws that govern their day to day lives,” Riad adds.
To develop this startup, Riad talked to about 400 people that needed legal advice, and got their feedback in terms of how they dealt with their lawyer, and talked to about 200 lawyers to see also what they needed and what they felt was a gap in the market.
She and her team then created a website and social media platforms to evaluate what people needed exactly so they can tailor their product to serve that.
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Today, Hekouky offers people content so that they understand their laws better, but overall, the legaltech product will offer a mechanism for which the law will be accessible to people. They offer individual citizens the opportunity to get legal responses, the opportunity to have their legal questions answered.
“Most importantly, Hekouky offers them trust and more reliability in terms of the lawyer that they’re choosing,” Riad says.
The startup offers lawyers the ability to market themselves, enhance their reputation within the legal market and connect the clients in an easier way.
“We want to send the very clear message that you need to know your law, and you can come to us to understand what the law says. That in and of itself creates a very different dynamic within society. It makes vulnerable individuals understand that, while they are less protected than authority figures or more privileged people, they are not as helpless and vulnerable as they think they are,” Riad says.
Understanding the law makes not just the day to day problems easier, but larger problems a lot easier to fix, making legal problems overall less daunting.
Riad wishes people knew that they don’t fully understand the law.
“By saying ‘I don’t know what the law says’, you give yourself the opportunity of retaining your rights, and not creating another version of the law in your head that makes you disempowered,” she adds.
One thing Egyptians can do to be more knowledgeable about their law is to go follow Hekouky online and ask them exactly what they want to know, where lawyers and clients will be on the same platform.
“We will be the link between you and justice. We will do everything in our power to make sure that whatever information you need, you receive.”