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AdviSME set to disrupt legal SME industry

One of New Zealand’s largest law firms has launched a technology-driven legal service designed to disrupt the market for small to medium business.

AdviSME is the brainchild of Tompkins Wake. It uses automation and AI to provide innovative and affordable legal solutions for SMEs.

Tompkins Wake chief executive Jon Calder said AdviSME was born out of an idea the firm developed to deliver quality legal services, tailored to the needs of SMEs using legal tech as a platform.

“We saw an opportunity to do something different, recognising that small-medium business needs to be nimble and agile, requiring responsive legal services with certainty and surety on cost and quality.

“Growing businesses need the best advice, support and guidance to remove risk and enable their success. That was the genesis of the AdviSME Business Healthcheck – an AI-driven tool that quickly assesses legal risk and identifies hotspots for SMEs.”

To create the platform for AdviSME, Tompkins Wake teamed up with Imagimation School, a digital learning and innovation workplace. Using Imagimation’s powerful AI tool and Tompkins Wake’s legal expertise, together they’ve created the Business Healthcheck along with a suite of automated legal documents powered by Automio, ideally suited to SMEs. And that’s all backed with a human interface of expert lawyers.
“We have shifted from the traditional billable unit approach which doesn’t always fit SME clients,” Calder said.
Cost certainty is a huge driving force for any SME. AdviSME is meeting the market by offering a range of pricing options to suit clients’ needs, including fixed fee and other flexible pricing arrangements including monthly subscriptions.

Much has been invested into machine learning and technology to develop AdviSME’s Business Healthcheck.

Users can complete the check in three minutes to gauge the legal health of their business and personal affairs and to view clear recommendations.

The Business Healthcheck recognises patterns based on a user’s response to generate the next applicable question. The questions have been designed by lawyers to ensure the questions are relevant and the recommendations are reliable.

Once the Healthcheck is complete, users are provided a legal risk score and the option to arrange a free, no obligation meeting with a senior lawyer to review results. From that discussion the AdviSME team will identify and prioritise your immediate legal needs and provide fully costed requirements based on the business’ legal budget.

An intended and valuable consequence of the Business Healthcheck is the data that is collected.

“There is no other similar data that has been collected on SMEs in New Zealand. The information collected will not only be valuable from a marketing perspective but from a local/national government perspective. We will finally have an insight on how robust our SME industry really is.”

Despite SMEs making up over 97 percent of New Zealand businesses it appears, from a legal perspective, that little attention has been paid to the sector.

“We want to help SMEs strengthen and grow, working with them as trusted advisors to develop legal solutions that remove barriers and risk and accelerate their success and growth,” said AdviSME lead Phil Monahan.

AdviSME’s launch comes hot on the heels of another offering that Tompkins Wake launched earlier this year to meet the need of the firms’ larger clients. Virtual General Council – or VirtualGC – provides access to Tompkins Wake’s entire team of lawyers, giving clients the specialist expertise they need, when they need it.

“The pressure to balance cost and efficiency when employing in-house lawyers is a challenge faced by many New Zealand businesses,” Calder said.

“Trying to cover a broad range of legal requirements with a small in-house team or single lawyer can often lead to compromised quality and increased costs effectively defeating the purpose of employing in-house.

“VirtualGC delivers full-service legal support for clients from a team of experts, giving certainty of cost and assurance of quality and bringing a strategic perspective into the management of their legal and risk functions.”
VirtualGC provides a relationship manager as the primary lawyer, coordinating and overseeing client business requirements and needs. The relationship manager learns the client’s business becoming an integrated part of their team, providing strategic insight and perspective ensuring the client access to the best lawyer for the matter at hand.

“As a law firm, we think differently and innovatively. We design solutions for our clients’ specific needs and technology will be an ever-increasing part of these solutions as we look to accelerate the speed at which we respond to our clients and deploy solutions to solve their often-complex problems.”

AdviSME is available to SME clients across New Zealand and has four physical locations – Hamilton, Auckland, Tauranga and Rotorua.


As part of its launch this month, AdviSME is sponsoring ‘SME digital retreat: using technology to succeed in small business’. The full-day event is part of the Waikato’s Tech Week 2019 line-up.

“We’re trilled to sponsor this event and get in behind Tech Week,” said Jon Calder, chief executive of AdviSME’s parent company, Tompkins Wake.

“As an innovative law firm, we can clearly see the role technology plays in enabling the success of SMEs.”

The retreat, held at Raglan, will highlight why technology is modifying small business for the better and will feature a range of speakers – including Jon Calder – and interactive workshops.

Tompkins Wake was one of 15 New Zealand law firms to make NZ Lawyer magazine’s Innovative Law Firms 2019 list, which was released last week.

After a strategy refresh in 2016, Tompkins Wake embarked on program of continuous improvement and innovation, now considered part of the firm’s ‘business as usual’.

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