LAWYAL Solicitors - Starting a New Law Firm From the Cloud Up
By Legal Practice Intelligence - 18 November 2013
LAWYAL Solicitors (pronounced ‘loyal’ solicitors) was founded by Leonie Chapman in mid 2013. Leonie is a commercial lawyer who has worked in top law firms and in-house. She has spent the majority of her career in-house for high profile companies.
In these roles, Leonie has been exposed to a certain style of practice that has been prevalent for a long time. It is one that has inflexibility and excessive cost ingrained in it which unavoidably results in negative consequences for both lawyers and clients.
Starting a new law firm was Leonie’s chance to build a firm based on professionalism and specialist expertise yet avoid the negative work practices that lawyers and their clients have suffered for so long. Technology has been a key element in helping to achieve these goals. It plays a role in how LAWYAL Solicitors works with clients, how the legal work is done and how the law firm is managed.
The benefit of being a new firm is that it is not weighed down by legacy technologies or trapped in out-dated work practices.
It is one thing to design a law firm from the ground up in accordance with ideal specifications but how do you actually put it together? Who is going to advise you on whether your ideas can be implemented technologically and whether software can be bought off the shelf or needs to be custom built?
Once you have received this advice, who is actually going to build it for you and how will you be able to justify the cost?
Leonie found the answer to these questions and challenges: The answer came in the form of her chief technologist, programmer and (financial and sweat-equity) business partner - none other than her spouse Craig Chapman.
Leonie says that he loves writing software and she loves writing legal advices. From Legal Practice Intelligence’s point of view, this is a practice management perfect match.
Craig is a full time technologist at a major telecommunications company. One can imagine that he has not had many free weekends since they came up with the idea of LAWYAL Solicitors.
Leonie has a lot of friends and family who have small businesses. Their feedback to her was that they often don’t get help from lawyers because it is too inconvenient and time consuming to visit a law firm. Leonie believes that if business clients had online access to lawyers and legal documents, they could have a cost effective and convenient in-house type of legal service.
What are Leonie’s ideas about legal practice that Craig has dutifully built or is in the process of dutifully building?
• Flexibility: not being tied down to any particular physical work place. One of the keys to this, according to Leonie, is not to be paper-based.
• Client Service: Working with clients as much as possible online.
• Reduced Overheads: Enable services to be delivered at a lower cost and thereby be able to provide higher quality legal services to a greater number of businesses.
LAWYAL Solicitors’ proprietary work platform is designed to be a beginning-to-end workflow system that is entirely online. It includes: generating proposals; new-client intake; assigning matters to lawyers; tools to do the legal work and collaborating with clients.
What makes LAWYAL Solicitors’ adventure into online legal services even more special is that Leonie and Craig Chapman perceived the need for the platform themselves. Although this type of law practice is becoming more widely known and accepted, LAWYAL Solicitors is not a case of blindly following the latest fashion or overseas trends. The LAWYAL platform is being developed from well-thought-out principles which are implemented and refined in actual practice.
LAWYAL Solicitors is actively encouraging independent practising lawyers to join with them for cross referrals, to work on client matters and co-operate in other ways that take advantage of this developing technology platform.
Visit LAWYAL Solicitors at www.lawyal.com.au
Note: Craig Chapman is not to be confused with another person of the same name who is a Sydney-based technology manager for a large law firm.
© 2013 Legal Practice Intelligence