SARAH Roach and Janelle Kerrisk (pictured) are the 'new law kids' on the block, carving a niche in Brisbane's legal offering through their bold and tech-savvy firm concept.
The pair left jobs in the private sector to establish Helix Legal, a firm focused on bringing a touch of innovation to the property, construction and energy space.
Helix Legal is a virtual, cloud-based and flexible firm which doesn't use billable hours, instead creating a fixed price for all services including litigation.
Kerrisk and Roach's concept has taken off since it was established in August last year, and it quashes the idea that construction and energy legal projects are traditionally slow-moving, cumbersome and overly expensive.
However, due to Helix Legal's non-traditional nature, Roach says the duo contended with several roadblocks and setbacks in the startup process.
"Once we had an idea of the kind of business we wanted to create, through the early stages we were just continually being told that we couldn't do it how we wanted to do it," says Roach.
"We didn't want to have servers because we wanted to be able to work from home, and we didn't want to use remote access because that would be a pain so we wanted everything to be on the cloud, but we were told that everything had to be on servers.
"We also said we didn't want to be locked in to any service providers because we want to keep up with technology which is improving so quickly these days - there were so many things people just kept telling us we couldn't do."
Kerrisk says despite the odds which were stacked against them, they couldn't take no for an answer.
"We had a lot of inertia to push up against, and that's why we had to keep insisting on looking for a collection of products that would give us the outcomes and the skills we wanted to achieve," she says.
Their resolve eventually paid off when a steady stream of clients kick-started the Helix Legal workflow.
Now, the firm is booming and the team is picking up awards to show for it.
At the Queensland Law Society's Legal Profession Dinner and Awards, Roach won the Innovation in Law award and was congratulated by QLS President Christine Smyth who said Helix Legal was "not quite a tech company, but not quite a stock standard law firm".
"Sarah believes that it's time to break with tradition, look at the big-picture of complex matters and create a clear plan in plain English," says Smyth.
Kerrisk says their award win has been a great affirmation from peers and clients, and she is proud of how far the firm has come in a relatively short time.
In Kerrisk's opinion, being an innovative firm means nothing if it doesn't help the client.
"Through Sarah's nomination we've had a lot of clients support us and commend us on the way we are doing things differently," she says.
"It's one thing to have all the great ideas, but if they don't actually make a difference to your clients and don't enhance their experience in dealing with lawyers, they're not really too valuable."
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