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Why On Earth Should I See a Lawyer? With Elise Margow

Written by Legally Yours intern, Nithini Perera

Elise Margow is the founder and principal of Legally Speaking. Having worked in the corporate sector for 13 years in telecommunications and financial services, Elise has acquired a wide business and legal experience. Elise has worked at Telstra Corporations Ltd, Liberty Financial Pty Ltd and continues to work as a director of two companies herself. Elise is committed to reinventing clients’ relationships with lawyers by providing meaningful and long-term partnership for small to mid-sized businesses and start-ups. Elise believes in providing customised legal services that reduce costs and enhance profits in business.

In the Silicon Beach Information Event, Elise began by providing an overview of her interactive presentation. Elise presented her approach to legal services which consists of an introductory chat and fixed fees. She also addressed many start-up founders’ common concerns regarding their power to bargain, when to reach out for a lawyer and what research to do beforehand.

Elise’s work revolves around empowering clients through her legal services. This begins by providing a free introductory chat to the clients where the lawyer can understand the business and legal needs of the client and the client can consider whether the lawyer is suited to be their long-term partner in business. Elise urges clients to pay close attention to the lawyer’s behaviour here. Are they taking an interest in you? Have they researched your business? Are they trying to understand you and your business?

Instead of measuring a lawyer’s contribution through billable units, Elise encourages clients to measure their service through what meaningful contribution they are bringing to the start-up. Lawyers can help clients understand suitable business models, analyse risk, and provide invaluable cost-benefit analysis. Elise advises her clients to carefully consider legal risks involved in business when determining if they should spend money mitigating these risks. Elise’s legal knowledge as well as her extensive experience allows her to provide customised legal advice to clients as they face these challenges.

Elise understands the financial limits that many start-ups’ founders face and caters to their needs through fixed fees. Elise instils transparency in legal costs-she will tell clients what she’s going to charge them and outline these details early on. She is more than willing to meet with clients to discuss the progress of their business- even as early as when the client has only come up with ideas for the business. Most importantly, Elise wants to instil clients with the confidence to have open and honest communication with lawyers.

So, why on Earth should I see a lawyer?

Elise concludes by discussing the crucial role lawyers play in start-ups’ in identifying suitable business models, recognising legal risks, and providing advice that mitigates these risks. A legal adviser gives you the ability to sleep at night and peace of mind. Ultimately, Elise highlights that the law is a service industry. She urges clients to keep this in mind as they recognise their powers as the customer and approach lawyers as long-term partners in their business.