Start-Ed: Free legal advice meetup Nov 20th 2013

As the name suggests, this is not so much a networking event, as an opportunity for startups to get free legal advice. The organisers bring along some working solicitors, and team them up with a number of law students.  They sit around a large table, and you put your issue to them, then talk it through.

There were three tables on this occasion, and they saw us one at a time, on a first-come, first-served basis. There wasn’t any noticeable time pressure – you had as long as you wanted to explore your issue.

It’s a great idea –

I imagine that the law students get a better idea of real-world situations, and presumably the law firms get to do some simple marketing of the ‘if you want to explore this further, there’s a specialist at our firm…’ kind (surprisingly very low key, I thought). The advantages for entrepreneurs are obvious, and adequately captured by the words; free, legal and advice.

It appears to be slightly hit-and-miss, in that the working lawyers at each table don’t advertise their particular area of expertise, and the organiser told me that they have different people each time – so you may or may not end up at a table with a specialist in the field your enquiry needs. It was suggested to me that it might be worth coming back a couple of times; that way you can refine your idea, get a broader spread of input, and increase your chances of meeting the particular expert you need.

My own experience probably wasn’t one to judge the usefulness of the event by – my enquiry was both broad and loose, and is detailed in the next post.

EVENT RATING: useful, for sure. Not a scintillating night out, perhaps, but the chance to get a response from a tableful of lawyers to a legal question in this area is a fantastic opportunity for cash-strapped startups. The fact that they encourage you to attend a more than once is excellent. I’ll make use of it again, I’m sure.

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