Technology, particularly legal technology is supposed to make the delivery of legal services more convenient. However, sometimes lawyers get in the way and muck things up. Teraview is a perfect example.
Back in the day, anyone could walk into the local registry office and register any document they wanted. Since the mid-1980s registration documents were not witnessed, nor were signatures checked. The system was one of openness and accessibility.
Then along came Teraview – which allowed registration from anywhere in Canada via the internet. A seemingly great idea that would make real estate transactions faster and smoother. However, everyone forgot about the fact that money still needs to be transferred by bank draft. Teranet Inc. (which runs Teraview and is owned by OMERS) has been well-positioned for years to create a fund transfer system to go along with registration – but has failed to do so. In fact, Teranet Inc. has been well-positioned to be a leader in fast and efficient real estate closing processes for the same period – but has failed to do so. Mostly because Teranet Inc. does not see itself as a legal tech company. It sees itself as a sleepy registration company that happens to use some technology. A big miss in my view.
But I digress.
Many lawyers liked the idea of remote registrations, but many others were concerned that our practical monopoly over registering deeds of land might end – even back in the day clients asked lawyers to prepare and register deeds. So, positioned as “fraud prevention” the government of the day was convinced to permit only lawyers to register deeds – notwithstanding over 100 years of permitting members of the public to register them. Note: Teraview allows mortgages and other documents to be registered by regular Canadians.
All these thoughts were turning in my mind as I spent much of Monday afternoon vomiting in my office. I was unable to go home to bed – where I belonged – because I had a real estate deal to close.
As a solo, there is no other lawyer who could register it for me. I was stuck. The same would apply if I went for a vacation outside of Canada. If I vacationed in Canada, I would need to have access to the internet to close my deals. In the old days, I would have sent the documents to a conveyancer who would close the deal for me and I could go to bed – or even on vacation.
It’s no wonder that the really good, useful legal tech is created and run by regular people – not lawyers.
Note to Teranet Inc. – you can access more capital than any legal tech start-up in history and yet you’ve decided to sit on the sidelines during the most disruptive period of time in the history of the legal profession. What’s up with that?