One year since launching her NewLaw franchisee business model for lawyers from Victoria, Meda Royall (pictured) is setting her sights further afield.
Two months ago in November, the business switched gears to launch Australia-wide. By early this year the group expects to almost double its lawyer headcount from seven to 13 franchisees.
“People are realising that there are these different options of what NewLaw actually is, that it’s not as scary as it sounds,” Ms Royall said.
“We get a lot of inquiries from sole practitioners who look at us and they look at their operating costs and they say ‘why wouldn’t I?’”
Ms Royall claims that by comparing a break-down of operational costs between the running of one of the Your Law Firm franchisees to a suburban bricks and mortar fit-out, sole practitioners can save more than 81 per cent in overhead costs alone.
She added that as familiarity to legal franchising increases in the NewLaw age, these kinds of cost benefits become more apparent.
“It takes people a little while to understand and to realise the advantages and what they have to do. I think it’s just a bit of a shift in mentality,” Ms Royall said.
“Sure, it’s going to involve technology, it’s going to involve working in a little bit of a different way, but at the end of the day it really frees you up to do the things that you want to do,” she said.
To date, the group has fielded growing interest from lawyers in Adelaide and Perth. However, Ms Royall said that the majority of inquiries come from Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and other major centres of New South Wales.
“Sydney is where there are the biggest firms and that is where most of the interest comes from, followed closely by Melbourne and then Brisbane,” Ms Royall said.
“We are anticipating to have another six lawyers join us in early 2017.”
The rapid growth Your Law Firm has enjoyed in the last 12 months has prompted the business to look to “strategic partners” – offshore-based infrastructure and support service providers – to seamlessly respond to its expanding ranks.
“We tap into the resources of a very big offshore team and they are deployed to us and we can scale up or down at the drop of a hat without having the big hassle of recruitment onshore,” Ms Royall said.
“It’s really secretaries, paralegals, book keepers – they’re the type of support that needs to be proportionally scaled-up with the number of people joining. For example, if you added two or three more lawyers, you would need to put on another secretary,” she said.
While Ms Royall has been approached from international practitioners who are also keen engage in her unique legal franchising model, she expects it may be at least another five years before breaking into markets beyond Australia.
“Franchising works the same no matter where it is, save for some regulatory differences in each country, but in terms of the back office infrastructure it’s not different to what we're currently doing anyway,” Ms Royall said.
“The wider organisation offshore already provides services to other English speaking jurisdictions outside of Australia, so the resources are already there.
“It’s just a matter of deploying them to us in a different country if we need to. It’s just a matter for us making that leap.”