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law firm launches legal support service for early-stage startups

20 February 2017

National commercial law firm Browne Jacobson is to launch a legal support service aimed both at supporting startups with high-growth potential and developing its junior lawyers into future partners.

Grow’, which is being officially launched on 23 February at an upcoming NewFinance FinTech Open Mic event, will see qualifying businesses being offered free access to a ‘Grow adviser’ - a dedicated lawyer below partner level - who will provide guidance and support to ensure startups establish solid legal foundations early in the life-cycle of the business, effectively acting as a remote in-house counsel.  

The dedicated adviser will be available on call and will invest their time in getting to know the founders and the business plan, discussing key legal and business issues, and potentially assisting with funding opportunities using the firm’s extensive network of corporate and finance contacts. Startups will also be able to access comprehensive free legal training and use of the firm’s five office UK network for professional use, such as meetings with investors and board meetings.

The launch of Grow follows on from a hugely successful pilot over the last twelve months which has seen a number of startups take advantage of the service including Telleroo, Monizo, Chicken Financial, Wisecrowd, Gigpanel and Impact Marathon.

Partner Declan Cushley, who leads Browne Jacobson’s startups and emerging companies team, said:

“We are taking a long-term approach by supporting founders of promising pre-revenue, and often pre-seed, businesses which otherwise might have no access to the quality legal advisers they need. The firm has always been well suited to helping early-stage startups due to our business culture being relationship-led, pragmatic and approachable. Grow is all about capturing and codifying what we already do well for our startup clients and perfecting the art of providing maximum value to founders by ensuring our firm always has a human face – the Grow adviser. It’s funny but the more we move to having a high-tech economy, the more value founders seem to place in just having a sensible person they can speak to and get a quick straight answer."

“The Grow service is sector agnostic and available to startups regardless of their focus industry. However, we still provide sector-focused expertise, because we place each startup with a Grow adviser with relevant sector knowledge and contacts. It’s critical that we pair founders with lawyers that can provide sector-specific knowledge, but also that those lawyers further enhance their own sector specialisms using Grow. Grow is as much about investing in the development of our own lawyers as it is about investing in relationships with founders.”  

Chris Carroll, an acting Grow adviser in the firm’s FinTech team, explained: 

“On Grow, I feel like founders teach us as much as we teach them; the relationship is reciprocal. Our clients are experts at what they do and we enjoy collaborating with them to make their ambitions a reality. In doing this, a Grow adviser’s job is primarily to manage the client’s experience with our firm to ensure they receive pragmatic and timely legal advice in the early stages of their business. But this isn’t where the Grow adviser’s role ends. Grow advisers become part of the founders’ wider team and are there to help wherever possible. Examples include: helping organise launch events; making useful introductions to funders, founders or collaborators within the same or complementary sectors; or simply meeting a founder for a drink and some moral support.”

Two of the first startups that have benefitted during the pilot are Chip In, which launched in 2016 offering the gamification of personal savings, and SweatCoin, the smartphone app which pays people to be physically active using digital ‘sweatcoins’.

Audrey Giroud, Founder of Chip In, said:

Chip In simply could not have launched without the work of Browne Jacobson… I never expected a law firm to truly invest in startups the way Browne Jacobson do...”

Oleg Fomenko, Co-founder of SweatCoin, added:

“Browne Jacobson understood our vision and their advice was timely and commercially sound, but – what’s more important - it was geared to the realities of a startup. The firm’s enthusiasm for working with emerging companies is very apparent.”

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