Corporate legal world held no attraction for LegalVision’s Lachlan McKnight – Follow the Founder series

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After working as a corporate lawyer in Europe, Hong Kong and Australia, Lachlan McKnight couldn’t see the attraction of spending 10 to 15 years climbing the company ladder to reach the top.

“I guess I never liked being told what to do,” he tells StartupSmart.

“I liked doing my own thing.”

McKnight was working in investment banking structuring hedge fund products when he came to the conclusion that the legal services industry was ripe for disruption.

“During that time I always wanted to start my own business.”

He met developer Evan Tait-Styles through a friend and together they launched LegalVision, an online platform providing customised legal documents, in December 2012.

They decided to pivot their offering soon afterwards when they discovered people who were coming to them actually wanted to engage a lawyer.

“We found a much bigger market of small businesses who didn’t have a lawyer and weren’t comfortable with lawyers going online to find information and get help,” McKnight says.

“So many small businesses – tradies are a good example – just don’t bother with legal services because they think it’s going to be expensive and a pain.”

The company came third in StartupSmart’s recent So You Think You Can Start-up pitching competition and will be part of our Follow the Founder series on the winners for the rest of the year.

LegalVision has a pool of around 20 specialist lawyers who provide legal advice to small business clients through the platform for a fixed, upfront fee, as well as continuing the legal documents side of the business.

McKnight says he sees LegalVision as a technology business that happens to do law, noting that tech was something law firms “don’t do”.

“That’s what’s fun about doing this. We’re helping small business get access to high quality legal services but who don’t want to deal with someone in a suit.

“Big law firms aren’t interested in our customers (and) our customers can’t afford a big law firm’s hourly rate.”

McKnight says he and Tait-Styles to want LegalVision to become the place where small businesses go if they’re looking for legal help, assistance or just have legal questions.

He adds they aim to focus on building the business in Australia this year before looking to expand overseas.

“What we’re doing is easily transferable overseas.”

Meanwhile, McKnight is not missing his former corporate life.

“We’re doing something different every day,” he says. “You can actually see the benefits of what you’re doing very quickly. It’s very rewarding compared to the corporate world.”

We’ll check in with LegalVision again later in the year to see how it’s progressing.

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