There are a few professions which evoke a certain ‘old-school’ feel. Innovation isn’t the done thing. Talk of technology means email and often not much else.
The law is one prime example – but who says it has to be?
Leonie Chapman has been a lawyer for over a decade in banking and finance law, and has worked for some of Australia’s biggest name corporates.
A desire for greater flexibility led her to think outside the box.
Armed with the experience of working in an activity-based work environment, (working from anywhere with just a phone and a laptop) and seeing friends and family with businesses without access to legal services – the idea for a virtual law firm came into being.
“The idea started getting really big, and then we eventually refined it, and came up with what we think is the perfect solution for small to medium enterprise, and financial institutions, who don’t necessarily need to go to the large, external law firms that are extremely expensive, and sometimes difficult to deal with,” Chapman tells DB.
And so LAWYAL Solicitors was born.
The way it works means any Australian business can seek and gain legal advice from an experienced lawyer, entirely online, using just a laptop, tablet or mobile.
Chapman says that by stripping away the unnecessary frivolities of law firms, like maintaining expensive offices with water views, and offering clients tea and cake, means her business can charge at almost half the hourly rate of mid, and top-tier firms.
“I’m also a huge believer in fixed fees. I think it’s absolutely possible and necessary for law firms to start fixing their fees for clients, so they have certainty of costs – especially for smaller clients. There’s an hourly rate as well, and I’ve done a lot of research across Australia, and for me – as well as the others who will all have 10+ years post admission experience – we charge at two thirds to a half the rate of an equivalent lawyer in a medium to top law firm,” Chapman says.
Now with a second consultant also working from home, Chapman says that with professional indemnity insurance, an ABN, and a laptop – her online legal service is already proving to be popular.
Utilising all the modern tools of running an online business, like social media for marketing and networking, and renting the occasional boardroom office space for any large client meetings, Chapman has brought innovation to an infamously old-fashioned industry.