Minimising Compromise: Smarter decision-making choosing a lawyer

In 2014, I worked in Tel Aviv for an incredible startup called Unomy which was later acquired by WeWork. Unomy was a ‘business intelligence’ tool which was all about collecting huge amounts of information (or ‘intelligence’) on millions of online companies all around the world, and filtering that data to allow salespeople and marketeers to only target the companies that fit exactly within the market they were looking for.

e.g. You could input “give me fintech companies, in New York, with 20-50 employees and 1000+ followers on Facebook”, and it would give you an exhaustive list of all possible companies within your search criteria, and if you had a premium membership, all the contact details of the decision makers you needed to reach.

It was an amazing company, backed by extremely smart, personable and determined people. The key benefit of the product was that bizdev teams could have razor-sharp lead generation with absolutely no wastage – pure focus and efficiency, and no compromise in terms of the time they would have spent researching leads, and the people they would contact. I.e. Smarter, more intelligent sales.

And I am convinced that the way companies currently operate in terms of outsourcing to law firms, accountants, consultancies, etc, really needs an injection of this minimising compromise approach.

Where is the compromise currently?

I believe that most businesses right now are making a compromise in saying:

We don’t have an in-house lawyer, we don’t know how this works, so we’ll outsource everything to a law firm”.

The issue here is that it’s very expensive and there is no real analysis of which elements of the job require a very experienced and specialised lawyer at a firm, and which elements could be covered by an in-house lawyer or a commercial member of a team. Any level of analysis of this would allow for significant cost savings to be made.

e.g. Company says: We need to set up an EMI share incentive scheme. A typical law firm quotes £4000-5000 for the full service + additional amounts to prepare each agreement for each individual employee to sign. There are highly specialist parts to preparing the share option plan and the template share option agreement for each employee, but there are also more simple parts like preparing board minutes, changing the details on each employee’s individual agreement, and filling out relevant forms.

Most companies just get a quote for the full job and pay for it because they feel like that’s the only way. The lawyer is very responsive and professional and although they were expensive, they did a good job. Fair enough. But if the company was able to spend 30-60 minutes applying clear segmentation to which parts require a specialist law firm, and which parts can be done in-house they would be able to negotiate much better deals with law firms and get the same job, done better, and cheaper.

Better – because they have an in-house member of the team driving the process, who naturally has a deeper understanding of the business than a lawyer in a firm.

Cheaper – because the law firm, charging by the hour, spends less time on the non-specialist elements of the job.

This will not be news to companies which have in-house lawyers – but what about all the others who don’t? Well…(not that this is purely geared at encouraging you to use the Accelerate Law service!)…we know that having an on-demand in-house lawyer enables businesses to make smarter decisions, save money and save money whenever they plan to use a law firm.

This article was written by Simon Davies, founder of Accelerate Law. Accelerate Law is a consultancy business providing in-house legal support to startups.

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