Sky News: LegalVision on Business Success

Sky News: LegalVision on Business Success

Welcome back to Business Success. I’m Chloe James for the RFI group. Now we’ve had a few ex corporate lawyers on
Business Success of late and tonight I welcome another in Lachlan McKnight who has had roles in some of the biggest global players across London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Hong Kong. He has set his cap in Sydney with his very own business taking on the big guns and doing quite nicely. I’m told Lachlan dreams about his business LegalVision. Hopefully, he won’t be dreaming now but he’s here to tell me all about it. Lachlan, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. Can you tell me a little bit about LegalVision. Who you are and what you do. And I think in this, the online versus what you do in bricks and mortar as well. Yes, sure. So LegalVision is a tech-driven law firm. That’s sort of how we describe it these days. We started off as just sort of pure online play,
servicing mainly SMEs. We now service quite a lot of enterprise customers
as well. And our model there is to really build tech solutions for large corporates, tech legal solutions. So we combine technology and legal skill. And there’s a business there, and then we also have business in the SME space where we service SMEs by providing fixed-fee,
really quick turnaround legal services. Okay. So someone needs some legal advice. They come online straightaway and then they might then obviously go to meeting with a lawyer following that. Sure, so it also really depends on what the client wants. So we have a lot of clients these days who don’t really want to have to go into the office to meet a lawyer. Who need something like a lease review done
or franchise review done, that sort of thing. They’re looking for a pretty quick solution
and the online model works well for that. But if clients are looking for, potentially sort of larger services, you know, dispute litigation, that sort of thing, they generally do want to come in
and meet someone. So we have offices in Sydney and Melbourne for those people to come in and meet us, yeah. Okay, cool, to have a chat about it. And a bit about the tech side of things. So you obviously give technical legal advice as well
and technical solutions. Can you describe that just a little bit more? Right, yes. So we have four developers in our team
and we build a range of solutions. So first we build solutions to make our lawyers work much more effectively and efficiently than a traditional firm. That’s a big part of what we do. The second thing that we do is for enterprise clients and large corporates. We’ll build tech solutions that really combine a tech and a legal kind of side to them. So by that, we’ll build, for instance, document automation platforms for clients that are looking to really speed up the way that they’re drafting documents. But the back end of that is we can have our lawyers reviewing the automated documents just to make sure that they’re signed off. And because I’m an incorporated legal practice,
we are a law firm. It really means we provide a pretty efficient solution. Yeah, that’s the thing that’s sort of coming out to me. It’s that real efficiency and that’s what people
are wanting, well businesses especially if you’re working
in that space of wanting just efficiency across everything they do. It’s just, you know, time is money. Sure it is, and look, at the end of the day, you know, every business is looking for cost savings and legal spend is a cost. So a lot of business owners and General Counsels
in particular are really looking to kind of reducing their spend and that’s where
we come in. We can help them achieve that. Yeah. So three-and-a-half years old, the company
as I understand. How many people have you got in the team now? And how are you leading them? Sure, yeah, so we’ve got 54 team members now. So we’ve doubled in size in the last year. Wow. Which has been, it’s been, obviously a challenge
and a lot of fun. In terms of leading a team,
I mean, look we have a very diverse team. We have some team members that work remotely. We have most of our team members working in
our Surry Hills headquarters. We have a team in Melbourne. So there’s a lot of online collaboration and that’s
very important. And at the end of the day,
we have a pretty young team as well. So you know, it’s working with a team in a sort
of modern way. Again, there’s not too much hierarchy. Everyone’s voice is heard and we provide a lot of opportunity for people to come in. Because the business has grown so quickly, lots of opportunities in terms of management responsibilities are opening up. And I think that allows us to attract really quality candidates and hopefully keep them. Yes, that Surry Hills point,
and I guess just for those not in Sydney, Surry Hill is inner city but quite a trendy suburb, usually where all the fashion houses and advertising companies are. Is that deliberate? Yeah well, partly. I mean, it’s important to be somewhere where
everyone can get to. Surry Hills was good because it’s obviously
pretty central. But a lot of tech startups are in Surry Hills and
we have a lot of tech startup clients. And so, being available there, being in a place where
we can work with them. We put on a lot of events in our office so we have a pretty kind of funky office. We can put on events and that’s really a great place
to be for that. Yeah that’s fantastic. So that startup world because obviously, I have a lot of startups on Business Success and working with those people. How is that experience? How do you sort of guide them in their legal advice a little bit differently to the more traditional players? Sure. I mean look, the first thing is we are a
startup ourselves. We’ve raised three rounds of capital so we actually kind of know what we’re talking about rather than sort of a traditional lawyer who has never really done it. So that’s really a point of difference. At the end of the day, another point of difference is
we assist lots and lots of startups. So we really see what people do right and what
people do wrong. So we can kind of guide a startup from that side
of things. Look, in terms of the main things to look out for when we assist a lot of people with capital raising. The reality is it’s very difficult to raise venture capital and the starting point I think for a lot of people is to really think about do they need to raise capital or can they actually bootstrap? Can they build up their business to a stage where it’s actually generating free cash flow? Would you encourage that? A bootstrapping as opposed to raising? Sure. I mean I think it’s a great way to start
your business. On the other hand, there are some startups that just can’t get anywhere without venture capital. Startups that are in the robotics field or you know,
really building pure tech plays. So what I do find, and particularly in our business is you can go a long way with a small amount of money. So if you’re very, very careful with your own money that you put into the business and with your first couple of rounds of capital, it certainly does help because it avoids, obviously excessive dilution in the early days. And that’s a big thing that people should look out for. So business owners obviously watching the
show tonight. Would your advice to them be obviously to engage with the legal services provider and other such experts. That perhaps they’re not expecting themselves to build that strong foundation for a successful business? That they say so many first businesses,
small businesses fail in that first year? Sure. Look, I mean I think to be frank,
there’s probably not many businesses that will fail in the first year because they didn’t have lots of legal advice. A lot of businesses fail because they’re not good businesses, first and foremost. The time to bring in a lawyer is really when you know you’ve got something reasonable and you want to sort of start protecting yourself and then protecting your IP and so on and so forth. I’d say the key is to set aside a reasonable amount of money for it but to really shop around and look for a good option for you. You don’t need to work on an hourly rate with a lawyer these days. There’s lots of firms like ours that offer fixed-fees and very competitive pricing. So again, and that’s the same in the accounting space. So there’s really opportunities if you shop around to
get a good deal. And that means you can spread your spend a bit and make sure you get the advice that you need. Some really good advice for small businesses there. I wanted just to quickly touch on a new strategic partner that you’ve just announced with Gilbert + Tobin. Can talk a little bit about that? And also whether you see some of those larger firms coming into partnerships with small firms like your own as something that
you see as a trend forming? Sure. Yeah. So Gilbert + Tobin, obviously a big corporate law firm. The opportunity there is sort of twofold. One, there’s a lot of clients that Gilbert + Tobin have. They have serviced those clients on the sort of really high-end, corporate transactional work. There’s a lot of opportunity there with those clients
to service them and the sort of higher-volume business as usual style work. And so we see a real opportunity there. I think for Gilbert + Tobin as well, working with the business which is, I guess innovative and we have our own development team and all that sort of thing. There’s opportunities for us to build tech together. Gilbert + Tobin are a very innovative law firm themselves. So that’s why the partnership sort of works from
that perspective. It’s a good cultural fit between the two of you. Yeah, exactly, yeah. And the way that sort of works is we did an initial round last year, got to know each other, and then they invested in this latest round. So they helped you with your round and then… Yeah. So they invested in a sort of bridge round
last year and they’ve invested in this sort of Series B round that we’ve just raised. And I think that’s a good way of doing things. To test out the relationship and then move forward. It’s sort of like dating before getting married. Usually a good idea. Exactly. So and look, is that something that’s going to be happening more with large corporates potentially? You know, at the end of the day, if you’re a large corporate, you can try to innovate from within. Or you can try to partner up with a startup and
both solutions potentially could work. But there certainly is a lot to be said for working
with startups. Yeah, working together. We do have to wrap up soon but I just wanted to talk quickly about your move from big corporate law firms that you worked all over the world to what you’re doing now. How has that experience been?
Would you recommend it? Are you loving it? Yeah, sure. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.
Obviously I wouldn’t be doing it. Are you the best boss you’ve ever had? Probably, yeah. So it’s been great. I really enjoy what I do every day. But on the other hand, I enjoyed working in the corporate space as well. Both are good but I do think that startups are fantastic and I think with the team that we have now, and the greatest part of working with LegalVision is seeing people come in, take on responsibility and end up leading teams
very, very quickly. Something that is very difficult to do in the big corporates. Particularly big law firms where it’s now 15 years before you make partner. And that’s where I think startups are kind of exciting because you can get responsibility much earlier. Yeah. A great place to be. Look, some really good advice. We have to wrap up. Thank you so much Lachlan for coming on the show. LegalVision. Check them out. That’s it from me at Business Success. I’m Chloe James for RFI group. I hope you enjoyed tonight’s show and learnt a few things about online platforms and their increasing success in the business space. Have a great night and I’ll see you next week.

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