Posted by Esha Kumar on 1 April 2019
If you’re a business based in regional Australia, this might be a familiar scenario for you:
You’ve just started up your own business and you live in regional Australia. Things are coming along well but when it comes to legal needs, you might find yourself with limited options.
Thinking about what legal needs you have for your startup, you start looking up any lawyers around town that can help you out.
There is one law firm in the area. But, they’re quite a distance away from home and specialise in a wide range of areas spanning from traffic related offences to manslaughter.
Obviously, not the kind of expertise you’re after.
You call your uncle, hoping that he might know someone who can help you out.
Turns out he did have to see a lawyer a couple of months back and he was “very good”.
After the call, you decide to do a couple of more searches just to see if you have missed anything.
It doesn’t take you long to realise that you’re getting the same results, over and over again.
This frustration is common for many small businesses and startups in regional Australia.
Having to find a business lawyer in the country can be difficult.
However, just like all other industries, many legal services are available online, and if you’re a business owner located in regional parts of Australia, it might be time to consider an online business lawyer to help you figure out your business legal needs.
Having now spent many hours searching for a lawyer, you decide to go with your Uncle’s recommendation.
Even though you are unsure of what they may be able to do for you, they are seemingly your only option and hope that they may consider helping you out.
You take the drive out and arrive at an office located on the streets of a small shopping strip.
The place seems empty and, after ringing the desk bell and waiting for a couple of minutes, your lawyer comes around to greet you.
Before getting started, he lets you know that he charges $200 for an initial consultation – which you agree to since you’ve come this far anyway.
He takes you into his office. Papers stacked everywhere, he clears a chair and gestures for you to take a seat.
After taking down your details, he asks you what you need.
You say to him, “I have just started a small business and need some assistance with the legal documentation I need before it’s completely up and running”
He spends around 30 minutes vaguely discussing what you need, and you get a sense that he’s not very confident with the subject matter. It turns out, he doesn’t specialise in business law and tells you that what you need is something he cannot help you with.
After a short apology, he walks you to the door.
Well, that was a complete was of time.
You may have found access to lawyers in regional Australia is quite limited and many that startup and small owners cannot find adequate legal services.
It is for this reason that over 65% of small business owners in outer-regional areas do not seek access to legal services.
You want your startup to have the best chance for success, but are concerned about settling for a legal professional who may not have the right skill set to provide you with your business legal needs.
Your research has made it clear to you that almost all your other options are no less than a two hour drive away and they tend to specialise in personal law matters, such as wills and criminal law anyway.
There’s actually data to explain why this is the case. If you take NSW as an example, a significant proportion of lawyers are in urban areas, while only 12% are in country or rural locations.
And that’s only half the story. The data also suggests that lawyers in the country practice in areas such as wills and estates, conveyancing, family law and criminal, compared to the city.
It is no wonder that expertise in business and commercial law is scarce in regional Australia.
Yet, you don’t really want to settle for a lawyer without that expertise. Having poor legals is a huge risk for a company, which may have serious consequences for the future of your business.
Considered Going Online?
So, you’re back at square one.
You have travelled quite a distance, spent some money for an unhelpful consultation and still need to find a lawyer to help you with your needs.
Sometimes, the internet is your best friend.
A simple Google search could be your answer to finding the solution to your business legal needs.
Developments in legal tech and the push to place legal services online is something that is addressing the access gap for many regional business owners.
By going online, you won’t have to deal with extra travel and accessibility to your lawyer.
Fixed fee services and easy communication methods, whether it be through email or by a short phone call, online legal services are exactly what you need to give your business a strong legal basis.
If you wanted to find out whether an online lawyer is right for you, take a look at this article where we’ve set out the pros and cons of an online lawyer.
What To Take Away…
Accessibility to business lawyers in regional Australia is limited and costly.
With the benefits of ease of communication, efficiency and lower costs, the option of going online for your legal needs is the option to take.
If you are a regional startup or business owner and are finding it difficult to find someone to help with your business legal needs, feel free to contact us, we are more than happy to help!