Australia: Norton Rose Fulbright and LawPath have formed a strategic alliance to provide start-ups and SMEs with greater access to premium legal services
Last Updated: 22 April 2016

Emerging businesses can face significant difficulties accessing quality legal services when raising capital or formalising employment agreements. The capital raising phase is often the first time these businesses have sought legal advice, and the process can prove time consuming, prohibitively expensive and stressful.

Using LawPath's online platform, start-ups and SMEs can now access fixed-price packages, specially designed and built in a collaborative effort with Norton Rose Fulbright.

This is a great example of how a legal industry disrupter and an established global law firm can work together to find new ways of bringing premium legal services to start-ups, moving away from traditional pricing structures and service delivery models.

The alliance offering includes investment packages covering capital raisings, shareholder agreements and convertible notes; and permanent and contract employment agreements. Each package includes standardised legal agreements and pre-paid hours with a senior Norton Rose Fulbright lawyer, to review and tailor documents to meet each customer's individual needs. For more complex requirements, customers can elect to supplement their package with an additional hours pack.

The investment packages have been designed to offer a complete solution for businesses raising capital with either a convertible note or subscription agreement. They provide all the documentation and advice required for an early stage Angel or Seed investment round. With the additional drafting that is included in the packages, the documents can be tailored to suit investment rounds as large as a multi-million dollar Series A, at a cost-effective flat rate.

This collaboration reflects a key component of Norton Rose Fulbright's strategy to address customers' evolving needs, at a time when the legal industry is undergoing significant digital transformation. Disrupters such as LawPath are challenging traditional legal service models making them more accessible to start-ups - often disruptors themselves.

Norton Rose Fulbright managing partner in Australia Wayne Spanner commented:

"We are really excited to announce our alliance with LawPath – a market leader in online legal services. Start-up owners traditionally struggle to obtain cost effective premium legal advice, and so it is good to be able to find creative ways to help these innovative companies grow. Combining Norton Rose Fulbright's legal skills with LawPath's market-leading technology gives innovators easy access to top quality legal advice at an affordable price.
"The alliance also demonstrates Norton Rose Fulbright's desire to both collaborate with the start-up sector and also to continually look at better, more efficient ways of doing business. By forging ties with LawPath's rapidly growing client base, and having greater opportunity to work with innovative clients, we also expect our lawyers to benefit from being more involved in the innovation economy."

LawPath co-founder and CEO Damien Andreasen commented:

"This collaboration represents a big shift for the legal industry in Australia. LawPath's platform will become an online distribution channel for Norton Rose Fulbright, helping to connect the firm's lawyers with start-ups and SMEs from all over Australia. For LawPath, the collaboration provides our customers with access to affordable premium legal advice which has traditionally been out of their reach.
"There is no longer any doubt that technology will change the way legal services are provided. The big question is how new and established players in the industry will respond, including who can best collaborate to provide customer-centric legal solutions"

Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy MP commented:

"It's great to see Australian start-ups given the opportunity to access legal advice at lower than the usual cost. We want to see Australian start-ups working with global organisations, disrupting traditional business models."

Dale Advisers director Richard Dale commented:

"I commend LawPath and Norton Rose Fulbright for this initiative. The price point of these packages, including four hours with a Norton Rose Fulbright lawyer, is simply fantastic value for the start-up community. I can see the investment packages in particular being very attractive to founder stage start-ups, a start-up raising a seed round of capital from family and friends investors for ordinary shares, and established companies where the founders have not yet put a formal shareholder agreement in place."

The alliance announcement comes off the back of a $1.3 million capital raising for LawPath in October 2015. Compared to the previous 12 months, LawPath's revenue is up 800 per cent and its user base up 400 per cent. LawPath now has more than 20,000 small to medium businesses using its platform and has helped save SMEs more than $6 million in combined fees by reducing the complexity and cost associated with legal services.

Last year both Norton Rose Fulbright and LawPath were added to the Legal Innovation Index 2015, run by LexisNexis and JandersDean.

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