As a former City lawyer myself, I saw that lawyers no longer need to operate out of expensive offices in the centre of town. All a lawyer needs to service clients properly is a laptop, a phone and a Wi-Fi connection. Many of my friends who had joined startups were looking for lawyers and I knew they didn’t need a fancy Magic Circle firm – but how could they find a lawyer who was both an expert and also cost-effective?
That’s why I started Lexoo. Now we’re the leading curated legal marketplace. We help our customers easily source transparent, fixed fee quotes from the UK’s most talented independent lawyers. And we do it within 24 hours, ultimately saving businesses an average of 46%. We’ve been selected as the Financial Times Innovation to Watch in 2015 and one of the UK’s top 100 new businesses by Startups.co.uk. We aim to make finding and employing the right lawyer for each business straight-forward and simple.
The legal world is tricky to navigate. It’s alien to most of us. We only have to delve into it a finite number of times in our lives. The thing is, there’s no quick fix in legal. It’s tough to know what to look for when finding a lawyer. If you want some tips on what to watch out for when instructing one, Lexoo is the best place to start. These are the three questions we advise exploring before instructing any lawyer.
1. What’s the lawyer’s demonstrated area of specialty?
Beware of ‘super lawyers’ – lawyers who claim they can do everything. One thing you see when looking for a lawyer is ‘Bad Italian Restaurant syndrome.’
You know how when you go into a restaurant and they hand you a large, laminated menu with 100 items on it? There’s five types of lasagna, sixteen pizza options, and nine types of pasta. Then there’s steak and chips, hamburgers and fries, chicken soup and hot baked wraps.
Whenever you see a menu that long you know you’re in a tourist trap, not a terrific trattoria.
We see this all the time when we’re looking for lawyers to join the Lexoo pool of talent. You visit a solicitor’s website and they’re claiming to be specialised in all types of work for all types of client. They’ll do criminal defense, corporate law, employment law, intellectual property law, international law, human rights, and immigration.
This is a huge red flag. You can’t strike oil by digging a dozen one-foot holes. Nobody can specialize in all those things at the same time.
Search for someone who has deep experience in the specific area you need help with.
2. What exactly are you paying the lawyer for (their time or their fancy office rent)?
With lawyers, how much you’re quoted depends on the nature of your job. Unfortunately, some matters that seem simple are legally complex and vice versa. So it is hard to follow your instinct. That’s why we always recommend asking for quotes from multiple lawyers so that you can compare costs.
Quotes will range from lawyer to lawyer. And the differences will be more significant when comparing quotes from large firms to smaller firms. You’ll find the best value with lawyers that trained at a larger firm, but for lifestyle reasons joined a smaller firm or started their own firm.
Their overheads will typically be lower, and as a result, they can charge much lower hourly rates. Combine this with asking for multiple quotes and you’ll get the best deal possible. (Multiple quotes from over 200 of the UK’s most talented and experienced independent lawyers is exactly what we offer at Lexoo.)
3. If you do choose to go with a big-brand law firm, precisely who will be working on your case?
Generally speaking, when you’re bootstrapping you don’t need a lawyer with a wow factor. You need an expert in that field who can get the job done for a reasonable price.
Nonetheless, some people are attracted to big-brand law firms. If you’re thinking of using a large law firm, there’s a few things to be aware of.
Firstly, look out for the ‘bait and switch’. This is where the people who impress you in the initial meetings aren’t the ones handling your case.
A good tip if you do meet with a large law firm is to ask to meet with the person who’ll be handling your case. If the person who shows up is still very senior, they usually aren’t telling you the truth. Especially if you are deemed to be a ‘small client’. In that case, the more senior lawyers simply won’t be able to justify spending a lot of time on you.
That’s why I’m so passionate about matching SMEs with lawyers who used to work at large firms but have now gone independent. They have the deep expertise, but are no longer forced to charge eye watering hourly rates.
Another tip is to ask for examples of other clients with your profile that they’ve helped perform the same legal task. For example, if you are a startup, what other startups have they helped through their first seed investment round?
Finally, always push for fixed fees. Larger firms often indicate they can’t offer fixed fees for your work, because the full scope of work might not be certain. In that case, you can reply that you are fine with them including some ‘assumptions’ to cover off those uncertainties.
The great thing about fixed fees is that it forces lawyers to be efficient.
To find out more, head to Lexoo.co.uk
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