Legal Services with Andrew Thornton
How Barrister Andrew Thornton is innovating in the Legal Services market with new service Sparqa
Andrew Thornton is a serial entrepreneur. He launches Sparqa, a legal services offering to all businesses the week after the show. What is brilliant, is that Andrew is making Sparqa FREE for the first year for ALL listeners of The Next 100 Days Podcast.
Go to: https://www.sparqa.com and enter code: LAW12FREE
Andrew qualified as a barrister in the late 90s. It’s his legal service day-job. He has been practising ever since. Most of his work comes from public company take-overs. Corporate legal services.
Alongside his legal work, Andrew has always had a keen interest in running businesses. Had he had the choice, he’d probably have preferred to have been entrepreneur first. He rather fell into being a lawyer. He is an Angel Investor and has founded several businesses.
The most noted investment was in Swiftkey. A predictive keyboard for mobiles. Sold to Microsoft in 2015.
Legal Services Investments
He has created 4 businesses in the legal business:
CPD Cast – this was a podcast business, bizarrely. This provided legal training by podcast. They would interview a legal expert about a particular area. It was sold to Informa in 2010.
Andrew learnt a fair bit from this business model. In particular, the Q&A format. Regulations meant they were having to have the podcasts transcribed. He realised the Q&A style of learning is a really helpful way to consume legal information.
When you look for legal information you are trying to answer a question. So a chapter is a weird way of going about answering your enquiry. This realisation has enabled Andrew and colleagues to launch 3 other businesses JUST from the understanding of this proposition.
FromCounsel – launched in 2016, providing premium corporate law knowledge. So far they have signed up 70% of the Top 100 law firms.
Juriosity– boils down to a market place for legal services.
Sparqa – takes the learnings from the style of writing in FromCounsel to advise businesses with information to allow people to create documents they need. Businesses ought to be able to access this information cheaply. Generally, fees for legal services are charged on an hourly metered basis. Sparqa works on a subscription.
The Entrepreneurial Lawyer
Four businesses have come out of a podcasting idea.
The most difficult sales task was persuading people they could create budget to buy the new services. They got development partners. They built the product on what customers wanted. The reality is budget constraints will frustrate growth in new legal services products.
They benefitted from having a co-director who was a recent Chairman of the Bar.
Previous Legal Guest – Chris Allen from Blacks in Leeds – Great Episode 46 on Legal Marketing –http://thenext100days.org /46-law-firm-marketing-chris-allen
FromCounsel – aimed at legal market. Sparqa is aimed at businesses.
Legal Services Monetisation
Lawyers get paid when someone rocks up and asks them a question. They have all this information in their heads, but it goes unpaid until they are engaged. Then, when they retire, the fees stop altogether.
The challenge that Sparqa addresses is Andrew knows that there is always someone who knows the answer to a legal question. But the chances of YOU asking the RIGHT PERSON is remote. How do you find that person. So Sparqa/Juriosity increases the chances of finding the right platform. Accessibility for a cheap subscription. You can get the answer quickly and cheaply. No bespoke information mainly.
Absent more complex issues, you should be able to get most legal services questions (60-80%) and what they need.
Do you need to spend £200k on a contract?
Andrew mentioned that if you have a consensual sale, then there should be a market standard agreement that can save everyone a lot of money. Instead, when Andrew sold CDP Cast to Informa, both parties spent a fortune – winning the battle of the negotiation.
So Sparqa presents a way forward for all businesses.
If you don’t get the right advice you can have a problem. Due diligence is important. GDPR. Keeping Directors minutes. Having website terms. Avoid life’s holes.
Who’s behind Sparqa
Lawyers, Barristers, Solicitors, Entrepreneurs. Chairman, General Counsel of Orange, on the Board of Swiftkey.
What you actually want is straightforward practical advice. No case law. They read the cases and give us a practical answer.
Sparqa talks you through the options.
DON’T MISS YOUR FREE YEAR’S USE….
General Offer to The Next 100 Days Podcast Listeners
Use code LAW12FREE to get 12 months access to the site for free!
At the end of the first year, they will start to charge around £240 per annum.
That Excellent Young Lawyer in Leeds…
Avoid the pitfalls – use Sparqa
Protect yourself. Stuff like owning your IP. It’s all about saying watch out for this, watch out for that. Help people along the way.
It will eventually become a promotion as your business.
Andrew – The Entrepreneur
He’s easily bored. And likes a challenge. In the past, he became a lawyer, but thinks he should have just started a business. Likes the ideas, talking about it. He moves things forward. Sat on the board of Swiftkey. That business was started by 2 twenty-year-olds. Their product ended up on 500million devices. It made using a mobile much more efficient. Their success energised Andrew to build his legal businesses.
Barrister Andrew Thornton talks about Spygate – where Leeds United are facing some form of sanction from the English Football League and FA, because their new manager, Marcello Bielsa despatched members of staff to observe the training sessions of rival teams in the English Championship. Here’s what Andrew said:
My Interpretation of Andrew’s Answer: Very Doubtful. They should have been able to see this happening. No wonder the Leeds faithful sing “The FA is corrupt” almost every game at Leeds with dubiously talented referees making strange unfounded decisions against the home team.
Andrew is a Liverpool season ticket holder. But it is his Dad who enjoys the seat mostly!
The Next 100 Days
Use Sparqa as a health check.
Look at the IP and Employment sections. If you don’t get right, they can hurt you.
It is easy to read. Website terms. Once you are registered, you’ll get a regular update of what’s new.