News & Analysis

Melbourne Accelerator Program enters three year partnership with law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth

- September 26, 2016 2 MIN READ

Australian law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth has become the latest in a fast-growing line of corporates to partner with an organisation in the startup landscape in a bid to increase its efforts to innovate, signing a three year partnership deal with the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP).

The partnership will see Corrs invest six figures into the program over three years through both financial and time contributions.

The firm will run legal clinics during which current program participants and alumni can seek legal advice, deliver legal Master Classes, and give MAP’s community access to its software to help produce customised legal documents.

Delivering the Master Classes will be Jonathan Farrer, Philip Catania, and John Tuck, partners at Corrs. Farrer said the partnership with MAP will be mutually beneficial, with MAP connecting the firm to the “next wave of disruptive businesses”.

“We will be able to learn from them, advise them, and help them to increase their competitiveness, and in turn the competitiveness of Australia,” Farrer said.

The firm was earlier this year named the sixth most innovative law firm headquartered in the Asia Pacific in the Financial Times innovation awards, also receiving recognition in the Technology category for its decision to move its legal technology, analytics, and document review platforms to the cloud.

The partnership with MAP will look to help the firm boost these efforts, with Jon Kenton, chief operating officer at Corrs, saying, “As the only legal firm to partner with the Melbourne Accelerator Program, we will have the opportunity to deepen our own startup experience while also supporting the growing culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in Australia.”

While it may be the only legal firm to partner with MAP, Corrs isn’t the only legal firm to dip its toes into the startup waters.

Fellow national law firm Mills Oakley last month announced a partnership with Collective Campus through which it will be launching an accelerator program to find entrepreneurs working on concepts for new technologies or processes that will improve the way the firm operates or delivers its services.

The firm will invest up to $500,000 in the participating teams, with the decisions around the distribution of this funding to be made on a team by team basis. Mills Oakley will retain 7 percent equity in each team, with the potential for both follow-on funding at the conclusion of the accelerator and the opportunity for the firm to enter into commercial arrangements for the products or services created.

Like Kenton and Farrer, Mills Oakley chief executive John Nerurker said that the best firms are “actively seeking out innovations to deliver even better results for clients”, and the accelerator was the perfect way for his firm to join in.

Meanwhile, firms Gilbert + Tobin and Norton Rose Fulbright have taken the path of direct investment into legal startups, investing in LegalVision and LawPath respectively.

Corrs joins Australia Post as a corporate partner of MAP. Australia Post signed on late last year through a three year, $1 million deal that has helped fund, among other things, two new places for ecommerce businesses in the accelerator and an annual scholarship to the Wade Institute for Entrepreneurship.

Image: MAP’s Rohan Workman. Source: Supplied.