The times they are a changin’ and now it the legal profession undergoing change or disruption. Mira Stammers, from LegallyYours.com.au, tells us about a new website she has created that makes getting a solicitor on a fixed rate so much easier.
Kevin: We’re hearing about disruption in a lot of industries. Remember those days when you use to go to a solicitor and never quite know what it was going to cost you? Well, those days could be well and truly over. There’s a new firm called LegallyYours.com.au. I’m talking to the person behind that, Mira Stammers.
Hi, Mira. How are you?
Mira: Hi. I’m really well, Kevin. How are you?
Kevin: I’m well, thank you. How does Legally Yours work, and why did you set it up?
Mira: Legally Yours is really a solution for business owners and other Australians looking for legal services on a price-certainty basis. I was working in London in a fixed-fee environment, and I came back to Melbourne and really noticed that it wasn’t available in a wide capacity in Melbourne. At the same time, I kept seeing all of these really talented women leaving the profession because of the lack of the flexible nature.
I wondered how I could put those two things together and eventually came up with Legally Yours. It’s a way to access legal services on a fixed-fee basis utilizing a pool of very talented women who work predominantly virtually.
Kevin: They are all women who are online?
Mira: There are men and women but predominantly women who have signed up to the service because of the flexible nature of it. Certainly, we can service all different areas of law, and we have specialists in all areas – so family lawyers, commercial lawyers, employment lawyers and whatnot.
Kevin: The fixed-fee arrangement I guess is probably the description. Is that more common overseas than it is in Australia?
Mira: I did find it to be more common in London. Certainly, even on big transactions, there was a demand for fixed fee. I think clients cottoned on to the fact that there is more bargaining power, perhaps because the GFC was a bit more hit over there.
I came back and thought, “We’re behind the times here. We really need to be listening to what clients want and giving it to them.” I just found that law firms here weren’t doing that.
Kevin: Apart from the fixed fees, what have you heard in feedback about other frustrations with the current legal system?
Mira: Well, part of my market research at the outset was to ask business owners and ordinary Australians, “What do you hate about lawyers?”
Kevin: Where do you want me to start?
Mira: That was commonly the response, and so I listened to that. I really listened. I think lawyers by their nature are very risk-averse. They tend to want to do things in a way that suits them. That’s fine, but it hasn’t been working for clients for decades.
I really listened to what clients wanted. They wanted not only fix fee, but they wanted lawyers who weren’t elitist. They wanted to be able to pick up the phone and not be billed every time they do. They certainly wanted to be able to entrust in their lawyers and know that basically there was value-based billing, and they could make sure that they got their phone calls returned and the correspondence was there, as well.
I think lawyers by their nature also haven’t been very responsive to clients. I really wanted to shake that up and change that and do the best that we could to give clients exactly what they want.
Kevin: What reaction have you had from legal firms?
Mira: It’s been varied. Some have been very supportive. Others have said, “Oh. That’s never going to work, and why would lawyers do that when we can charge hourly rates?” I think those lawyers will find out over time that this is working and it’s really about being innovative in your approach and progressive in your thinking.
Kevin: I guess it would be fantastic for lawyers who don’t want to be caught up in a large firm, maybe do a little bit of work for themselves, and as you say, ideal for women who don’t want to be in the full-time work force anymore.
Mira: Absolutely, and I think they’re a very underutilized talent pool. There are lots of women out there who have had amazing training and have great experience, and perhaps they’re at home looking after their kids and they want to continue to do some work. But private practice, the way it is set up, doesn’t really support that. There are some firms doing it out there, but not many. I really wanted Legally Yours to support women to stay in the law so that we didn’t lose these talented women.
Kevin: There are so many other things I want to cover with you, too, but unfortunately, we are out of time. I’d love to get you back into the show just to talk to us about some of the things that you’re finding – legal tips for investors, etc. We’ll have to get you back at a later time for that, Mira.
I want you to check out the address. It is Legally Yours.com.au.
Mira, once again, we’ll look forward to having you back in the show at some future time. Thanks again for your time.
Mira: Thanks, Kevin.