Simplicity, efficiency and technology - a new breed of law firm
Lawyer and serial entrepreneur Alex Solo tells us why he is on a mission to re-invent the law firm model.
Alex Solo is serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Sprintlaw- a new type of law firm whose focus is simple: make legal services accessible and affordable for startups and small businesses.
In the last three years Sprintlaw has grown to a team of 15, has won numerous innovation awards and is now looking to expand outside of Australia. Alex is also one of Donna’s biggest fans and today we wanted to share his story with you and find out what is fuelling growth at Sprintlaw.
Tell us a little bit about your career in law? As a lawyer, I specialised in the technology space, initially acting for blue-chip clients on a range of tech, media and commercial deals. Whilst working at a top tier law firm in Australia, I got involved in advising startups and led the launch of the firm’s startup practice. Here, I had the chance to work with a lot of early-stage, disruptive online businesses. Working with these innovative businesses was inspiring, and the nimble, lean way in which they ran their businesses stood in juxtaposition to my experience working in a large corporate firm.
What pushed you to start your own firm? The in-efficiency of traditional law practice and the massive under-servicing of small businesses is really what pushed us to start Sprintlaw.
We saw a way to re-invent the law firm model using the same sort of thinking that tech companies do - be lean, scalable, tech-forward and highly customer-centric. In doing so, we’d be able to make legal services more accessible, affordable and relatable to these startups and small businesses.
How does Sprintlaw operate? We’re a fixed-fee law firm that provides packaged legal services to startup and small businesses. We’ve also recently launched a tech-powered legal service for larger corporate businesses. Our services are provided by a team of expert lawyers, who use our custom-built automation technology, plus other efficiency tools like Donna, to provide better, faster and more affordable legal services to our clients. We provide all of our services online and over the phone, which allows our team to work remotely and flexibly from around Australia.
You keep winning innovation awards and so we’re keen to hear your view on technology? Technology is at the core of our business model and our culture. We use technology to cut out any task that is process driven or automatable. For every task we do, we’re always asking: is there a way that this could be automated or made more efficient using technology. This means that most of the administration that exists in traditional firms is gone, and so our firm doesn’t have any administrative staff.
This allows our team to focus on doing the stuff technology can’t do – like empathising with clients, and helping find creative solutions to their legal problems.
How do you know if a tool is adoptable? I would say that the number one most important thing is user experience and onboarding. If I can get the team using it in under 20 minutes, whilst making it look good and fun - it's a winner.
How did you come across Donna? We focus a lot on transactional work - drafting contracts like intellectual property or shareholders agreements are a big part of our workflow and preparing legal documents is one of the most time consuming aspects of our job. So we are always looking for tools to make the contract drafting process a lot more efficient. To begin with, I probably tried every single tech tool that you can imagine for contract automation or drafting efficiency - including a lot that weren’t great and didn’t save that much time. We ended up building a number of tools in-house.
When I came across Donna about a year ago, I could immediately see it was different from the rest - the developers clearly understood the real time-sinks of drafting and proofing contracts, and had made a tool really focused on time-saving . But what really set it apart for me was the design and user experience - Donna actually feels like a non-legal tool, it is much lighter and faster than other legal tools and it is very intuitive to use, which is crucial in getting our lawyers to actually use it!
What’s your take on the role of the lawyer and how that’s changing? Software is helping lawyers become much more efficient in their jobs, getting rid of routine mundane tasks. I don’t think it is replacing the need for lawyers, contrary to what lots of news headlines might suggest. I would say in the near future lawyers will be a lot more focused on the more ‘human aspects’ of the job - using their judgement and empathy - rather traditional administrative tasks, which technology can take care of.
What would you say to any lawyers looking for a role at your firm? I would say we look for lawyers who are efficient, process-orientated and tech savvy. This doesn’t mean they need to code but they should be curious about technology and enjoy using technology tools in their day to day life. We also look for great oral and written communicators, who are able to effectively explain and break down complex legal concepts to our clients.
Alex - thanks for sharing all these insights with us, we’re really inspired and wish you all the best as you and Tomoyuki Hachigo expand Sprintlaw. For any startups and small businesses looking for legal advice, look no further.
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