It’s a tough world for businesses starting out, and no more so than in 2020, still reeling from the consequences of a global pandemic.
With fast-growth companies such as Hopin, Hospify and We are Digital as its clients, Harper James Solicitors was conceived to enable start-ups like these to scale with legal support that’s swift, straightforward and subscription-based.
Almost half of small-business owners and the self-employed in the UK agree that the legal advice sector is “not set up for them”. Perceptions around cost, difficulty of access, and a lack of technology were the main barriers reported by SMEs put off from looking for legal help, according to a 2019 Nesta survey.
Harper James Solicitors was founded by Toby Harper exactly because he felt strongly about the challenges start-ups faced in accessing legal support.
Working as the in-house counsel for a Midlands venture capital firm, Toby hit upon a disruptive idea: what if a law firm operated like a start-up, focusing its most valued assets – solicitors – on giving legal advice without the administration found in a traditional law firm? And if the firm was to operate remotely, using a subscription pricing model, could it offer early stage or scaling businesses more affordable rates?
Armed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of business financing and all things start-up, Toby left his in-house role and secured a government start-up loan to set up his own law firm in 2014. His aim was to transform business legal services by creating a modern law firm built to meet the demands of entrepreneurs.
‘What Harper James clients have in common is the determination to survive, succeed and thrive’
In little over six years, Harper James Solicitors has grown to a national team of almost 60 and now works alongside 1,200 companies. What Harper James clients have in common is the determination to survive, succeed and thrive.
“Supporting entrepreneurs and new businesses has always been my driving force,’ says Harper. ‘As an entrepreneur myself, I know the barriers that exist to getting your idea off the ground. We believe in empowering exciting, high-growth businesses across all sectors with access to first-class legal advice, at a cost that’s affordable for founders.”
It’s thanks to Harper James’ innovative pricing models that many of the start-ups – which may have felt legal support was out of reach – are able to access legal advice from partner-level solicitors. Built around a low-cost subscription model, Harper James’ legal services are tiered according to how much support your business needs. Pay-as-you-go subscription models might sound like something you’d expect to find on your smart TV, but Harper James’ modern pricing structure has been designed for forward-thinking firms.
Its Enterprise plan, a legal support package specifically designed for start-ups and smaller businesses, has a £189 monthly subscription fee. This provides clients with one hour of legal advice per month, which rolls over if unused plus access additional legal support from just £99 per hour. This allows businesses to spread the cost of legal advice while enjoying peace of mind that additional support can be quickly accessed without costs rocketing.
As businesses grow, Harper James offers packages that grow too, meaning its clients can access all the help they need on the journey to reaching their goals. When it comes to the business of raising finance and working with investors to help scale start-ups, the firm’s strong corporate team is valued by leading VC and investment companies.
Kieran Hill, COO of Ascension Ventures comments: “Our long-standing relationship has enabled us to get deals over the line quickly and efficiently – with minimum fuss.”
Like the ambitious clients he is proud to support, Toby Harper is no mood to slow down.
“Unless you keep iterating and improving as you grow, it is hard to stay the distance,” he says. “I have big aspirations for this firm. We’ve grown rapidly in six years. My longer-term ambition is to become a top 100 firm. It may take us a while to get there, but we will. And we look forward to helping lots more clients achieve their growth ambitions too.”
Expert lawyers with top 100 credentials
All of Harper James’ experienced lawyers have either been employed at a top 100 UK law firm or worked in-house at a large international business. They practise remotely and this flexible way of working breaks down geographical barriers and allowed Harper James to build partnerships right across the UK.
Harper explains: “Our experienced lawyers work flexibly, which allows them to achieve a good work-life balance. This in turn reduces our overheads, so we can pass on those cost savings to our clients who are based across the UK and offer high quality legal advice at a fraction of the cost of City firms. But one thing we never compromise on is the quality of our service.”
That service allows the clients Harper James work with to access all the legal support any business needs to scale. Areas which Harper James specialise in include providing advice on employment law, resolving business disputes, and supporting companies in the process of scaling up.
Run as a business, not a law firm
From CBD oil to graphene, online event conferencing to high-speed electric motors, Harper James client list reads like a rollcall of British innovation right now. Clients of the firm prize the speed and efficiency of the Harper James legal experience, and the peace of mind that leaving the legals to the experts affords them.
‘It’s like having my own in-house counsel, but at a fraction of the cost’
Jo Evershed, CEO of online experiments platform Cauldron Science, values the dedication of her legal team as well as the market-leading rates: “It’s been a breath of fresh air to work with Harper James Solicitors. It’s like having my own in-house counsel, but at a fraction of the cost.”
Chris Mason runs Namos Solutions, an award-winning Oracle consultancy, and likens his relationship with Harper James to that of a partnership, rather than a typical customer and supplier: “Harper James are our trusted legal adviser and having them by our side at key moments in our business growth, knowing we are protected, is immensely reassuring. Each of the individuals we’ve worked with at Harper James has always shown incredible expertise and the utmost professionalism with very much a ‘can-do’ attitude.”
For Geeta Sidhu-Robb, founder of wellness brand Nosh Detox and a corporate lawyer herself, the difference between Harper James and a traditional law firm is very welcome.
“I was looking for intelligent, fast feedback on things I couldn’t do myself,” says Sidhu-Robb. “Every step of the way, Harper James have fulfilled that promise – they’ve been so responsive. It’s run as a business, not as a law firm. Anyone who’s been near a law firm knows the difference.”
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