The Australian tech space is looking to find alternative solutions to legal procurement in order to help customers source the right type of legal advice, specific to their issue and financial position. There have recently been a number of innovations in the legal sector, across areas including LPO (Legal Process Out-sourcing), ELM (Electronic Legal Management) and eProcurement. The combined effect this innovation has on consumers changes the way clients select and use legal services.
However, new Brisbane legal startup Lawcadia believes that despite the growth of these platforms, commercial organisations still struggle with issues around outsourced legal service providers and is looking to be the solution.
Lawcadia is an online platform that offers procurement and financial reporting tools to companies in Australia and overseas. The startup has been designed to give commercial organisations the ability to connect to the right lawyers and provide them with visibility and accuracy over their legal spend.
Warwick Walsh, founder of Lawcadia, believes in a post-2008/GFC environment companies are under pressure to cut costs and achieve greater savings for stakeholders, all the while offering transparency throughout the whole process.
“More and more legal counsels are seeking discounted legal services as a result and, in response, some law firms are providing ‘discounts’ on their fees but making up the balance by charging out-of-scope extras,” he said.
A common challenge commercial organisations face is how to control and justify legal spend. On the other hand one of the biggest challenges law firms face is finding new clients and bringing in new work.
Walsh said, “There is a lot of pressure on partners these days to network and build relationships with clients. A lot of their time is spent on this, and it impacts the law firm’s bottom line and influences higher fees.”
With these challenges in mind, Walsh decided to build a two-stage procurement process for legal services. Lawcadia was built to simplify this process and benefit both lawyers and organisations.
Clients sign up to the platform through a registration process where they create new briefs when they require legal assistance. Lawcadia asks a series of questions to both clients and law firms, so it’s clear what services companies want and how they want the matter to be run. This encourages law firms to be clear with their clients with all issues and pricing.
Once a client lodges a new matter on Lawcadia, firms pitch their proposals and pricing based on high-level matter details. Clients are notified when pitched by a firm and can select up to four law firms to provide more details and information.
Companies use Lawcadia free of charge, while law firms pay five percent in fees, which are billed and recovered through the platform. For commercial law firms Walsh explained there is no other business development activity where fees are payable only if you are successful in winning the work.
Lawcadia also assists startups and other companies to scope out what is needed for a matter to encourage law firms to provide legal transparency offer competitive prices.
The startup was first launched on February 29 and has been fully self funded. So far Lawcadia has built up a substantial number of contacts thanks to Walsh’s 14 year experience as a senior corporate lawyer in Sydney, London, and Brisbane. He has also worked with clients in Hong Kong, China, and Singapore.
“Contacts in all of these areas have been essential in our market research and early registered law firms, especially in building our overseas network of law firms,” he said.
With a limited budget Lawcadia has been able to generate exposure and leads through contacts with target clients. General counsels have expressed interest in the platform and Walsh believes he can build upon this to transform Lawcadia into the leader in the legal procurement space.
Currently this space is still quite small, but is growing thanks to the increasing popularity of legal startups. Fellow Australian startup LawPath, for example, this week partnered with global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright to give startups and small businesses access to standardised document packages and time with senior lawyers.
Lawcadia has registered law firms in Australia, London, Singapore, Hong Kong, and San Francisco. Walsh explained that while he is targeting clients in Australia, the future plan is to target overseas clients.
He said, “We are really excited about the future. Funding will see Lawcadia quickly expand our team and allow us to continue to optimise the platform and further our product development.”
Image: Warwick Walsh. Source: Supplied