Lachlan McKnight and Evan Tait-Styles first started LegalVision as an online legal document platform. But when they realised clients still wanted the assurance of support from a qualified legal practitioner they brought Ursula Hogben on board to set up a law firm structure and pivoted to create a law firm modelled on a software startup.
|Established|| As a legal document platform: December 2012
As a law firm: February 2014
|Staff||40 employees, including 20 lawyers|
|Practice areas||Business and commercial law|
|Performance|| 60-70 leads a day
250-300 matters per month
6-8% revenue growth month on month
Legal Vision's founders set out to build an entirely new business model for practising law. "Our model is to run the business like a software company, not as a traditional law firm," explains CEO Lachlan McKnight.
They started by dividing the legal advice process into discrete steps, then allocating each step to a specialist team. "Our client care team are our first point of call, and we have inbound and outbound sales teams to do all our business development work. Our client success team follows up our existing clients," says McKnight.
This approach leaves the firm's lawyers free to focus solely on legal work, enabling them to process matters more efficiently and provide a high quality of service in their specific area of expertise.
"The client is assigned to one of our seven principal lawyers, based on the type of work that it is — they then distribute the work effectively to a member of their team," says McKnight.
McKnight believes the market for legal services is becoming increasingly competitive — and one of the greatest challenges for law firms seeking to evolve is the traditional partnership structure, which encourages a focus on maximising partner income rather than long-term growth. "If you just want to maximise your returns, there's no incentive to reinvest in growth. The structure also prevents innovation because of the number of people that need to agree on something before it gets done," he says.
In contrast, Legal Vision's structure is designed to prioritise growth and innovation over short-term profitability. "What we are focused on is building a very large business, and in order to do that we need to invest in customer acquisition and growing the team," McKnight says.
In a tight market, LegalVision sees leading-edge technology as an essential tool for creating efficiencies and reducing costs, allowing the firm to charge competitive fixed fees while still earning attractive margins. "If you work on a fixed fee basis, you can increase efficiency and increase your margins — making it difficult for mid-tier firms to compete," says McKnight.
While they initially focused on a small business segment they felt was being underserviced, they've increasingly found that medium sized companies are also attracted to their unique price point and service offering.
Meanwhile, their priority remains growing the business, rather than making an immediate profit. With two capital raisings from angel investors under their belts, they're planning to raise additional capital to fuel future growth.
"We raised venture capital and we run our business on a burn rate — so we run at a loss — investing a lot of money in customer acquisition and growing our team," says McKnight. "We're aiming for 100% growth year on year."