Lessons to be learned in this time
Regardless of motivations to start a new legal business, all three had to quickly realise the enormity of launching a firm during a global pandemic – particularly, Ms Neilson observes, given that COVID-19 went, overnight, from “being a problem in a way off country to a challenge in my own backyard”.
“I sounded out people close to me and took on board advice that has held me in good stead, including; being modest in fanfare, premises, formal commitments, and most of all building our reputation as a rock solid firm to ensure there are no backward steps,” she recounts.
“And, of course, I must say that I am extremely grateful to my staff who have been very supportive and have worked hard, long hours to help me build and stabilise the firm.”
Such a support network is “essential” to the longevity of such new boutique practices, Ms Bilson says in agreement: “With COVID-19, a new approach to networking is necessary. To make this happen, a good grasp of technology and social media is a must.”
Practitioners looking to start up their own firms, or those who have already done so, must make sure that they have thought about what people need and how best one can meet those needs, especially in this time, Mr Maher argues.
“It is not simply thinking about how things have been done in the past, it is about being able to adapt to the ever changing environment in which we live and ensuring your business model is flexible to meet the changes we are currently facing, but also those which we have yet to encounter,” he suggests.
Benefit of legal tech
All three new business owners acknowledge that that utilisation of legal tech products and platforms has been instrumental and inextricably linked to the viability and success of their ventures. Ms Neilson, for one, initially didn’t appreciate how LEAP services would be a difference-maker, but “quickly learned” that they should have been.
“LEAP has provided us with the opportunity to manage our files in an effective, paper lite environment which was always a goal. It also provides me with great reporting mechanisms that allows me to keep on top of things which is really important,” she says.
The LEAP offerings have allowed Mr Maher to focus on the substantive legal work, he notes, rather than worrying about setting up software and accounting solutions that are regulatory compliant.
“It has been easy to navigate but is also flexible and allows me to access information on the go, which assists me in being more productive, but also my clients as I am able to access information for them instantaneously if meeting them away from the office,” he explains.
For Ms Bilson, efficiency was paramount: “With LEAP I have confidence in my firm file management and integrated accounting. I am most impressed with the Commonwealth Courts Portal integration with LEAP, having filed documents automatically added to the LEAP matter, so impressed. The set up process was straight forward, I was up and running in no time.”