Website promises unbundled business law guidance to SMEs looking to enter UK
Cho: platform could eventually offer arbitration services
A DIY legal guidance and forms website founded by two Korean solicitors and aimed at overseas SMEs and start-ups setting up businesses in the UK, is to launch this summer.
The solicitors have created LawXero, an unregulated platform which styles itself as “a flexible online legal information and guidance station for smart businesses looking to establish a UK presence”. They hope to be fully up and running by June 2016.
Eunyoung Cho, a consultant solicitor-advocate at national network law firm Setfords, who specialises in immigration, employment and civil litigation, founded the business with a corporate tax specialist lawyer at a City firm, who wishes to remain anonymous while working out her notice period.
As well as guidance and legal forms which amount to an ‘unbundled’ DIY offering, for those businesses in need of legal advice the website will provide referrals to a panel of lawyers and a client matching service to non-lawyer specialists.
Ms Cho, who was born in South Korea and moved to the UK aged 11, told Legal Futures that the “substantial” guidance and forms would also cover the “early stages of litigation”, short of providing reserved legal services.
She said: “There are a lot of things that a company like LawXero could do [such as] producing general guidance on when and how to sue in the UK, when or how to mediate or use arbitration… how and where to find the relevant court guides on fees, produce guidance on those parts of the CPR that are relevant or useful.” Eventually, LawXero could even offer mediation and arbitration services itself.
She added that she hoped “this bridging of the gap in services… will be particularly important and useful for start-ups facing costs and expertise challenges [who have] not enough profit yet to set up a full in-house legal department but still requires guidance to step in the right way”.
LawXero will make its money by being a “concierge for both clients and lawyers”, with the guidance and forms being available on subscription. Ms Cho and her colleague plan to write the guidance themselves, possibly with input from panel member lawyers.
Both solicitors have experience in business development for their firms and have built a network of contacts, said Ms Cho. “Lots of lawyers don’t have business development experience and don’t want to do it; they just want to work on what they are good at.”
She said that “the kind of clients we are exposed to” were cost conscious and often “don’t know what they don’t know, so they don’t even know what questions to ask lawyers. We thought ‘OK, let’s provide them with information first on everything about setting up in the UK’”.
Services would be available at three levels, she explained: DIY guidance, lawyer referrals, or “if they don’t want do anything themselves, they can go directly to lawyers”. She added: “Lawyer referrals are not subscription-based, but probably if you are subscribed to our website you will get a discount for lawyer referral services.”
Asked whether LawXero would focus on Korean businesses setting up in the UK, Ms Cho said it was already advising a Korean company starting a franchise business: “That is the low-hanging fruit for us, so we will naturally look there. It is something that comes to us naturally but it is not our sole market – it’s a starting point for us.”
She said she was talking to a third party about obtaining off-the-shelf company formation and company secretarial forms. The two founders were in the process of writing the site’s legal guidance.
Tags: business information, online platform, SMEs
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