LEGAL AFFAIRS

Hong Kong’s Dragon Law offers quick fixes online for start-ups’ legal paperwork, uses tech to offer huge savings

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 August, 2015, 7:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 August, 2015, 7:01am

A Hong Kong start-up that found success by offering cheap legal services online for routine matters is now going after big corporate clients as its top executives harbour dreams of changing the way small businesses in Asia operate.

Launched at the turn of the year, Dragon Law provides on-demand contracts for companies in Hong Kong that cannot afford the large sums lawyers typically charge. The company expanded to Singapore in June.

A professional subscription to the site starts from HK$8,000 (US$1,030) a year. This gives start-ups access to basic legal documents they can fill in themselves online with some help from software and automated prompts. 

As lawyers in the city can easily charge HK$40,000 per document, many start-ups try to do the work themselves, the company said. The results can be mixed.

“We bring clients who are not in the market today,” said Emmanuel Pitsilis, a board director and angel investor in Dragon Law, which claims 700 subscribers.

“Many of these clients, as they stand, they basically call their friends. They Google everything, they look for whatever they can find, and they try to edit it.” 

New users to the site can download two tailor-made documents for free, or take out a subscription that fits their requirements.

Contracts can be created with little or no fuss by imputing the required information into an online form by following a series of prompts.

After reviewing the contract, users have the option to submit it for review by an independent lawyer. 

Dragon Law has partnered with more than eight law firms in Hong Kong to provide legal advice.

One of its projects, DragonLink, acts as a matchmaking service for clients and lawyers. The latter can post quotes online in response to piecemeal recruitment ads. 

Another of its services offers reviews of independent lawyers’ expertise.

Pitsilis said he was surprised that law firms in the city were so open to working with the start-up, rather than seeing it as competition. 

This is partly because Dragon Law takes care of relatively simple and unprofitable tasks, which bigger law firms would rather ignore to focus on bringing in new clients, the former McKinsey partner said.

Originally aimed at start-ups and SMEs, the start-up has seen increased interest from larger companies that are looking to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

Dragon Law said it aims to make its systems so easy to use that even sales or other staff at client companies can tweak contracts, thus freeing up in-house lawyers to deal with more weighty matters.

Dragon Law plans to expand to other countries in the region by the end of this year, it said.