Australian law firm targets UK SMEs with unlimited subscription service

McKnight: Very few tech-driven, client-centric legal service providers in UK

A tech-driven Australian practice offering SMEs unlimited, on-demand legal services on a subscription basis has set up in the UK, saying the shortcomings in law firms’ digital marketing strategies offers a major opportunity.

LegalVision does not handle one-off pieces of work; instead, members pay between £49 and £329 per week, depending on the size of business and length of contract (one, three or five years), for all business-as-usual legal advice.

Services include commercial contracts, intellectual property, employment, business sales, data and privacy law, franchising and leasing, and their use is unlimited. Upon renewal, levels of use are not taken into account – indeed, co-founder Lachlan McKnight told Legal Futures that the biggest problem was underuse.

“Every month we onboard 100 new members and we encourage them to make use of the service.”

Only litigation and corporate transactions are excluded from the subscription and charged on an hourly rate, although members on longer contracts receive a certain amount of advice for free.

The online member platform allows clients to book consultations, request assistance and download legal documents and templates.

LegalVision currently has seven people working from its office in Manchester, with Mr McKnight about to relocate from Sydney for at least a year. He said he expected to grow to around 30 staff, including 20 lawyers, in that time.

The firm has already made “a few sales” since opening and Mr McKnight said the conversion metrics were “looking pretty similar” to Australia.

“We’re confident our transformational approach to client experience, online acquisition and legal services will translate well all across the UK as it has done in Australia and New Zealand.

Set up in 2012, LegalVision expanded to New Zealand 18 months ago as a “test case for international expansion”, Mr McKnight explained. Its success encouraged the move to the UK.

“The British market is three times larger than Australia and there are very few tech-driven, client-centric legal service providers. Being the only firm operating on a membership model, we can provide an exclusive and valuable service to companies.”

While there were other providers offering subscription services in England and Wales, Mr McKnight argued that none were unlimited.

“Growth in our existing markets has exceeded expectations and with the way the world has changed post-Covid, we feel this is the perfect time to launch in the UK,” he went on.

Mr McKnight said SMEs were happy to receive legal advice online – a vanishing small number of Australian clients asked for face-to-face meetings, requests which were accommodated.

He suggested that, despite the greater size, the UK was not significantly more competitive market than Australia’s.

“One of the reasons it’s an attractive market for us is that we have a well put-together digital acquisition strategy – we are number one in organic search results [in Australia].

“What we’ve seen with the UK that there are some law firms that are trying to do a good job on the digital front but it’s not particularly impressive in terms of what’s out there. We think there’s a good opportunity to get to number one – in two to three years, we expect to have the most visited legal service website in England and Wales.”

Mr McKnight said many business lawyers still thought they would get work from traditional sources such as referrals and networking.

“But a huge number of SME business owners go online first to get information about the issues they’re facing and secondly don’t have a lawyer and go online to find one.”

He said about 85% of members renewed, with those going out of business accounting for most of the churn. LegalVision has a net promoter score of 70, as well as a score of 4.9 on both Trustpilot Australia and Google Reviews.

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