Tompkins Wake launches tech-driven legal service

by Sol Dolor17 May 2019

Tompkins Wake has launched a tech-driven legal service that puts the needs of small-to-medium enterprises front and centre.

Called AdviSME, the service could also provide a valuable insight into the state of SMEs in New Zealand, the firm said.

“We saw an opportunity to do something different, recognising that small-medium business needs to be nimble and agile, requiring responsive legal services with certainty and surety on cost and quality,” said Jon Calder, Tompkins Wake chief executive. “Growing businesses need the best advice, support, and guidance to remove risk and enable their success. That was the genesis of the AdviSME Business Healthcheck – an AI-driven tool that quickly assesses legal risk and identifies hotspots for SMEs.”

AI-backed assessment

Tompkins Wake created the platform for AdviSME in collaboration with Imagination School, marrying the digital learning and innovation workplace’s AI tool and the firm’s legal expertise.

With the use of AI, Business Healthcheck allows users to complete an assessment of their organisation’s legal health and affairs in just three minutes, the firm said. It uses patterns gleaned from a user’s responses to generate succeeding questions, all of which have been designed by lawyers to ensure relevance.

The assessment produces clear recommendations, as well as a legal risk score. Users are also given the option to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation meeting with a senior lawyer to review the assessment.

John Calder

“From that discussion the AdviSME team will identify and prioritise your immediate legal needs and provide fully costed requirements based on the business’ legal budget,” the firm said.

In addition to Business Healthcheck, the team also created a collection of automated legal documents, powered by Automio, with SMEs in mind. The firm said that all of these products are backed by expert lawyers.

The firm said that AdviSME meets market demand for cost certainty, a key focus for SMEs, by offering a range of pricing options. These include fixed-fee arrangements, as well as other flexible-pricing arrangements like monthly subscriptions.

“We have shifted from the traditional billable-unit approach, which doesn’t always fit SME clients,” Calder said.

Valuable insight

Tompkins Wake said that it also expects to gain insights into the state of SMEs in New Zealand with the use of AdviSME.

“There is no other similar data that has been collected on SMEs in New Zealand. The information collected will not only be valuable from a marketing perspective but from a local/national government perspective. We will finally have an insight on how robust our SME industry really is,” said Philip Monahan, senior associate and AdviSME lead.

Philip Monahan

The firm said that little legal attention is paid to SMEs, despite these enterprises making up a bulk of New Zealand businesses.

“We want to help SMEs strengthen and grow, working with them as trusted advisors to develop legal solutions that remove barriers and risk and accelerate their success and growth,” Monahan said.

Virtual General Council

Earlier this year, Tompkins Wake also launched Virtual General Council (VirtualGC), for the firm’s larger clients. The service provides on-demand access to the firm’s entire team of lawyers.

“The pressure to balance cost and efficiency when employing in-house lawyers is a challenge faced by many New Zealand businesses,” Calder said. “Trying to cover a broad range of legal requirements with a small in-house team or single lawyer can often lead to compromised quality and increased costs effectively defeating the purpose of employing in-house.”

Tompkins Wake said that VirtualGC delivers full-service legal support, cost certainty, and quality assurance. It also brings a strategic perspective into the management of legal and risk functions. Clients on the service will have a primary lawyer as the relationship manager, who is expected to become an integrated part of the client’s team.

“As a law firm, we think differently and innovatively. We design solutions for our clients’ specific needs and technology will be an ever-increasing part of these solutions as we look to accelerate the speed at which we respond to our clients and deploy solutions to solve their often-complex problems,” Calder said.

Tompkins Wake was recently named one of New Zealand’s most innovative law firms.