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The legal industry: fast asleep while technology enables a new model for start-ups

Edward Mallett, Managing Director of Employsure

Edward Mallett, Managing Director of Employsure

The challenges for traditional industries are intensifying. After decades in the driving seat, technology is now striking the heart of what some industry sectors have traditionally kept to themselves. And arguably, it’s about time, as a new wave of technology enabled start-ups are finding more efficient ways to deliver services tailored to a client’s needs and financial means.

Recently, Dynamic Business has spoken to a few of them: Ticktoc; disruptors of the taxi industry with their tech savvy platform and lower fares, Expr3ss!; disruptors of the recruitment industry with algorithms that select ‘fitting’ candidates and finally, You Legal, LawAdvisor and Sydney Criminal Lawyers who are leveraging technology to vastly improve access to legal justice. But according to Edward Mallett, Managing Director of Employsure, the legal industry appears to be sleeping through it.

Former Barrister, Edward said “the challenges for the legal services industry are huge. For years now, the edges of the industry have been eaten away from law firms, whether that be conveyancing work, claims processing or legal process outsourcing. There are some excellent new start-up models which are now pushing towards the heart of what lawyers have traditionally kept reserved to themselves. Despite this, law firms don’t seem to have woken from their slumber.”

Employsure, a specialist in employment relations and work health and safety, is one such business fraying the edges of the traditional legal industry. Although not a law firm itself, Employsure offers subscription based legal HR and workplace advice to small businesses.

Allowing small businesses to ‘side-step’ traditional costly law firms, Edward said prices are calculated on the client’s size rather than 6 minute units as is the case for many law firms.

“This enables us to provide advice to all clients when they need it, encouraging businesses to take advice at the right time without fear of incurring additional cost.

“It also means that our clients receive consistently high quality advice regardless of their size, rather than having to decrease the expertise of their advisers because of the price tag associated with them.”

A “technology facilitated company” according to Edward, Employsure has been able to cast its net of expertise across Australia with staff based around the country from Darwin to Launceston. All of whom can report their activity in real time to a centralised management function in Sydney. Since it started in 2010, Employsure now has over 300 staff who service 7500 SME clients across Australia.

But Employsure’s disruptive capabilities are not just an observation or side-effect of their work. Edward hopes that by filling this legal gap, they are “doing their bit” to democratise the industry by “providing access to advice and protection for all businesses.

“If this inspires others to reconceive how they provide advice, either in workplace relations or beyond, it would overall be a good thing for businesses across Australia.

“We hope that it causes the old fashioned professional services model to take note that the market has changed.”

So the lesson for the legal industry – or any professional service industry, brought by Employsure and the many other technology enabled start-ups, may be a simple one. As Edward puts it, there will always be a need for the services, but they themselves [and others] “need to adjust and adapt to how people want to request and receive advice, particularly in a technology driven environment.”