The number of innovative legal services businesses that operate outside of the traditional model is increasing so much now that to think of them as ‘alternatives’ feels like a misnomer. Take Sprintlaw for example, a ‘totally online’ and ‘fully distributed’ law firm that only charges fixed fees and aims to offer specific ‘legal products’ to its clients. It started in Australia and now also operates in the UK.
Artificial Lawyer put a few questions to Alex Solo (pictured below), co-founder of Sprintlaw, and who was once a lawyer at top Australian firm Clayton Utz, to find out some more.
– When you say you are a ‘totally online’ law firm, how does that work?
We’re ‘totally online’ in the sense that we work online both internally and externally. Internally, we run as a ‘fully distributed team’ – meaning our team work remotely from all around the world. We have employees from across Australia and the UK who work from their home offices, and connect and collaborate with our team using our cloud-based collaboration tools (including dashboards, video chat, and project management systems).
Similarly, externally we operate online too – we deal with all our clients remotely via Zoom calls or phone calls, and provide advice online using tools like Loom and our other custom-built cloud-based systems. We have operated as an online-based firm since our launch in 2017.
– Where do the lawyers come from?
Our senior lawyers are highly experienced, trained at large traditional firms and who have joined Sprintlaw for our flexible, innovative culture. We also hire graduate and junior lawyers, who we train through our graduate and staff development programmes.
– Could this be described as a ‘lawyer marketplace’?
No, I’d say we’re best described as a tech-powered legal practice. The majority of our legal work is done by Sprintlaw-employed lawyers, and core to our model is that we are a legal provider ourselves and we leverage our legal expertise and legal data to build legal technology and processes that allow us to deliver higher quality and lower cost legal services than traditional law firms.
While we do occasionally use contract lawyers where we are at capacity or for highly specialised work, we are not a marketplace model that connects clients with lawyers. We operate as a law firm in Australia and a legal consultancy in the UK. [ N.B. this is because in England & Wales they are not yet regulated by the SRA, although that makes little difference for most aspects of commercial legal work. ]
– Who are the main clients? e.g. SMEs with no legal team of their own?
Our main target market are startups and small businesses, who do not have a legal team of their own. We work with businesses across any industry or business model, and we aim to have a ‘full-service’ legal offering so that we can provide wholistic support.
Our clients tend to be what we term as ‘smart small businesses’, with businesses that are forward thinking, lean and agile – and see symmetry in working with a like-minded legal provider.
– How do you approach pricing?
We are a fully fixed fee, ‘productised’ legal practice and we have created standard prices/packages for over 250+ legal services – from general things like service agreements, registering trade marks, data protection advice, capital raising and shareholders agreements. Our team provide transparent, upfront fixed-fee pricing to any client that enquires, by selecting the packages appropriate to their legal needs. We provide custom fixed-fee quotes for non-standard legal work.
Our fixed fee legal work is organised into standard packages for common types of services. The initial prices that our packages are assigned is based on a combination of analysing market pricing and considering time required for our team to complete the work. As we deliver more packages over time, we become more efficient (through building automations and adding learnings to our LMS) allowing us to further reduce prices.
– Where are your clients based now?
We are set up to provide legal services in Australia and the UK, and have 2,500+ clients from all around the world who operate in these markets – from multinational tech startups based in the US, to traditional small businesses in UK and Australia.
– What tech are you using?
We’ve developed three custom-built tech innovations which power our practice – our Legal Resourcing System (LRS), our ‘Sprintyard’ Learning Management System (LMS) and Workflow Automation System (WAS).
Our LRS is a cloud-based tool for lawyers to manage current legal projects. Inspired by ‘ticketing’ systems of Amazon/Shopify; our LRS automatically calculates lawyers’ availability to enable efficient project allocated and gives clients estimated project completion times. This improves client experience and reduces staff overwork.
Our LMS – the ‘Sprintyard’ – is an efficient knowledge-sharing system for our lawyers, which we have build through collecting and analysing data from over 5K legal projects we’ve completed to date. Based on this data, we systematise as much of each legal package as possible – by creating automations, checklists, templates and package-specific clause libraries, which are all stored in the Sprintyard.
Our WAS is a series of custom scripts we’ve built to automate time-consuming secretarial tasks — letting us operate without administrative staff. Our scripts automatically complete routine tasks like creating matters, generating invoices and trust receipts, and sending client emails.
Thanks Alex, it’s great to see how legal market disruption is steadily spreading. And welcome to the UK!