The legal industry is famous for its traditions and formality and, as a result, doesn’t exactly have a reputation for innovation. Of course, there a handful of legal professionals working in the background trying to change the way things are done. The last few years have seen new firms arise looking to provide people with greater access to legal services than traditional firms, which bill by the hour at prices unaffordable for the majority.
Sydney-based law firm Source Legal, which was founded in 2011 to offer legal services on a fixed fee project or monthly retainer basis, has launched Source Legal Online, a subscription service offering startups and small businesses unlimited legal services.
The subscription, which is priced at $400 per month (excluding GST) when subscribers sign up for three months or more, aims to give startups an in-house style service.
It covers services needed in ‘the ordinary course of business’, such as preparing, reviewing, or negotiating contracts, employment advice, compliance advice, and dispute resolution. It also covers 24/7 phone and email support. Matters outside the ordinary course of business include litigation or mergers and acquisitions.
The idea for the subscription service came from noticing that many of Source Legal’s clients came to them for the same routine tasks.
Stanislav Roth, founder of Source Legal, said that the team expects that startups and small businesses will have a need for legal assistance for an average of one to three tasks a month.
“We do not think or worry about ‘hours’. We have a true value-based fixed price model,” he said.
Roth believes that the service will enable startups to be taken more seriously.
“Earning the trust of the market partly depends on having – and being seen to have – your legal fundamentals in order. Startups in particular are often attempting to disrupt businesses whose legal resources far outweigh their own – it’s not a level playing field,” he said.
“Whether they want to deal with the incumbents, or win contracts when bidding against them, constant access to professional legal support and documents gives challenger brands a fighting chance.”
Roth also welcomes competition from other innovators in the legal industry; a big name in the space is LegalVision, which offers businesses services for a fixed fee.
“We would like to see more – not less – competition in this space…we know and respect LegalVision and others trying to do innovative things in the market, and there are still too few of those. However, our model is quite different from LegalVision and others,” Roth said.
Roth said the service has five subscribers so far, though he is confident of converting many of Source Legal’s ad-hoc fixed price clients into subscribers.
He said the Online division is targeting a market different to that of the core Source Legal business, with Online designed for startups and SMBs that have up to 20 employees and an annual turnover of $2 million or less.
“As the awareness of Source Legal Online increases, we expect very high number of customers and subscribers because we believe that we offer is truly unique and represents an outstanding value for money for very small businesses,” Roth said.
“We also hope that some of our Source Legal Online customers will grow well beyond the $2m threshold and will then become Source Legal’s customers, benefiting from a greater range of services Source Legal can provide.”