My name is Leonie Chapman, co-founder and the Legal Practitioner Director of LAWYAL Solicitors, an online law firm created to make legal services more accessible and affordable to companies and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).
After spending the last decade as in-house counsel for Australian banking and financial institutions and speaking with small business owners over the years, I discovered a great inequity between the access large institutions have to legal advice compared with SMEs. SMEs simply don’t have the same financial resourcing and capacity to hire permanent in-house counsel at high fixed costs, or to engage external law firms with large overheads and billable hours.
As a result, by necessity SME owners develop the skills to feel their way through legal issues, relying on instinct and good business sense to assess risk and make decisions, rather than talking to lawyers. While I believe these instincts would often be spot on, this approach leaves the business open to the risk of contract breach, dispute and litigation, regulatory intervention and potentially added financial and reputation cost to their business.
The solution for SMEs…
LAWYAL Solicitors offers a solution… convenient online access to fast, easy to understand, affordable and expert legal advice, with the familiarity of a loyal in-house counsel. With the use of technology, LAWYAL is able to reduce unnecessary process, inconvenient office meetings and costly overheads in order to keep prices down.
I want SMEs to have access to legal advice for any daily issues that arise, however large or small. This may include contract drafting and advice, review of website content and terms, review of marketing collateral and disclaimers, new business start-up structuring and advice, and the protection of their brands, licenses and intellectual property rights.
As we understand the internal operations of a business and its commercial drivers, we can also work closely with SMEs to help scope and implement changes in law, as well as review and audit policies, procedures, practices and documentation after implementation.
Flexible and affordable fees…
By using smart technology and offering flexible fee arrangements, SMEs will pay for quality output, not overheads! SMEs can have the option of fixing or capping the legal fees upfront, time-billing matters with competitive hourly rates, or entering into monthly retainer arrangements. In particular, I think retainer arrangements can be very beneficial to SMEs for access to LAWYAL Consultants for a fixed monthly fee and capped number of hours per month. This provides a more accessible service similar to an in-house counsel. With predictable and transparent fees, we can concentrate on better collaboration with each business in order to find more creative legal solutions.
For more information on how LAWYAL can help, please visit our website.
By Leonie Chapman, Principal Lawyer and Director, LAWYAL Solicitors
© LAWYAL Pty Ltd