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Spare a thought for London’s black-cab drivers – they recently took to the streets to protest against Uber, the mobile phone app that has had many a brush with the law since it was founded, five years ago. At the very heart of Uber’s business model lies the answer to a legal question: is the app a taxi meter or not?
The black-cab drivers’ main contention against Uber is not only that the regulators should call a spade a spade, now that a suite of pricing apps – like Hailo or Uber – are here. But it is also that the regulatory bar should be raised across all private hire vehicles to ensure consumer protection and safety, if nothing else. In reality, however, the protest boils down to nothing more than how an industry assaulted by disruption deals with change. Does it sound familiar to those in the legal market?
Change can appear particularly threatening to a market in transition and it always ruffles a few feathers. Taxis and law are one of my favourite analogies and I have written previously on this blog comparing the billing methods in the two sectors, not least because in both cases technology has brought down the barriers to entry.
In truth, protests tend to be the last resort when there is no turn back from change and the liberalisation of a market through de-regulation has started to work. As with the black cabs, the world of legal services has changed fundamentally even though that change has yet to trickle down to the consumer market. With taxis, the impact is more direct, but nonethel
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Dana Denis-Smith is the CEO and founder of Obelisk Support, a legal services provider offering flexible legal solutions to FTSE100 and law firms with highly-skilled lawyers. Obelisk Support was listed as one of the fastest-growing businesses in Europe in 2018 by the Financial Times.
A TedX speaker, Dana regularly speaks at industry events and in the media on gender equality, entrepreneurship and legal technology. In 2019, she was recognised by the Legal 500 for Outstanding Achievement in Legal Services and in 2018, she was voted Legal Personality of the Year at the LexisNexis Awards
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