Online employment law specialist targets divorce and conveyancing

Knight: Serial entrepreneur

The founder of an online employment law firm which specialises in settlement agreements has said he is planning to launch two similar alternative business structures (ABSs) – one for no-fault divorce and the other for conveyancing.

Patrick Knight, managing director of Settlement Agreement Solicitors Ltd (SASL), said all three businesses were named after terms consumers were most likely to search for online.

Mr Knight described himself as a “serial entrepreneur” who left school with one GCSE – a B grade in maths – because he was already running successful businesses.

Having set up and exited several businesses, he said the idea for SASL came after he took a sabbatical. He was surfing in Bali when he decided to become a lawyer.

He was later told he needed A-levels to take a law degree and decided against this, because he was an entrepreneur and “a tree should grow where it is planted”. He has since obtained an ‘exceptional circumstances’ exemption from the Solicitors Regulation Authority allowing him to take the Solicitors Qualifying Exam.

His interest in the law led him to ask an employment lawyer which area of work he would do if he could only do one thing.

The answer was settlement agreements, because “there is constant work and employees are really grateful because you are helping them through something really difficult.”

Mr Knight described SASL, launched in 2020, as “the only UK law firm focused exclusively on settlement agreements for employees”.

The name was chosen because ‘settlement agreement solicitors’ is the top search term for an employee looking online for help with a settlement agreement.

SASL has 30 staff and offices in London and Bournemouth where staff could work, if they did not want to work remotely, meet and get training.

The other director and member of the board is Jarred Bold, a solicitor, an employment lawyer and the firm’s COLP and COFA.

Mr Knight said the firm had invested heavily in “developing exceptional customer service”, and as a result was the both the highest-ranked law firm and top employment law firm on Trustpilot – 97% of its nearly 2,700 reviews are five-star.

SASL has also invested heavily in its bespoke tech platform, which automates half of the tasks needed to complete a settlement agreement.

SASL tells clients it can typically complete the entire process within 24 hours if no drafting amendments are required to a settlement agreement, or within two to three working days if there are.

Clients only have to pay whatever contribution towards the legal fees the employer has offered, and SASL says it will try and negotiate a better offer for free, “unlike all the other law firms that will try and take as much as 35% of any increase that they negotiate for you”.

It was announced this week that SASL had secured a £500,000 flexible funding facility from Cynergy Business Finance, the asset-based lending subsidiary of Cynergy Bank.

Mr Knight said the next online ABS he would be launching, in three to six months, would specialise in non-contentious divorce, covering the “full spectrum of services” on divorce, arrangements for children and financial arrangements.

The gap in the market he aimed to fill with was an online service provided by solicitors.

Like SASL, clients will communicate by phone or video call rather than in person, and legal tech used to “make the process as seamless as possible”.

Mr Knight said Divorce Solicitors Ltd could end up being bigger than SASLL, because the market was so much larger.

He said recruitment had started, with the first person coming from an existing online divorce provider.

Conveyancing Solicitors Ltd, a third ABS, is scheduled to follow in six to nine months’ time, after Mr Knight bought the domain name for a “five-figure sum”. The top search term for conveyancing is ‘conveyancing solicitors’.

Mr Knight said that, at the moment, he was not aware of any online residential conveyancing firms provided by solicitors.

He said there were no plans to open new offices when the three law firms were up and running.

“This an opportunity for us to raise the bar for legal services and make the experience better for consumers.”

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