We recently had the pleasure of chatting to Alex Hill of Digital Union about all things Modular Law and our plans for the future.
We’re thrilled to have Modular Law on board as a Friend of Digital Union! What was your motivation for joining?
Thank you, we’re delighted to be involved! We focus exclusively on tech and digital projects, so we joined DU to expand our knowledge of the region’s tech sector, grow our network and learn how best to support the businesses that DU champions.
You pride yourselves on being different from ‘traditional’ law firms – how do you differentiate yourselves from this market?
Firstly, we’re a specialist legal practice. We’re immersed full time in the legal issues around supplying and procuring tech-based products and services. That focus, and our founder Steven’s prior career as a software engineer, gives us good sector insight. So, whilst we’re lawyers, we can also speak techie and we love to learn more from clients!
Secondly, we’re a nimble start-up, designed for efficiency. Our IT includes best-practice cloud systems, we’ve a single North East office and we’ve done agile working since Day 1. Combined with our sector focus, this enables us to deliver great service from a cost base that’s completely different to our competitors. We pass this on in our pricing.
Finally, we’ve spent significant time working as in-house lawyers in major regional businesses. In-house you really sharpen your focus and commerciality. The question “does this really add value?” is often in mind. So, we don’t do massive legal documents. We’re about efficiency: enabling business through safe and pragmatic contracts.
Modular Law focuses on legal issues specifically within the tech and digital sector – why did you decide to adopt this niche? Did you spot a gap in the market?
Our tech focus comes from our founder, Steven, who spent much of his twenties developing software with global tech businesses in Cambridge, California and Northern England. He then qualified as a solicitor and worked in-house for a decade, going on to lead the legal teams of two North East businesses. In setting up Modular Law, Steven selfishly combined three passions: technology, the law and the North!
The legal services market is undergoing huge change. Clients rightly demand both sector insight and efficiency. Whilst large law firms pursue efficiencies through mergers, at the other end of the scale there’s huge growth in small specialist firms that focus on practising just one area of law really well, giving sector insight and efficiency by design. That’s what we do. Whilst there are specialist tech law firms in the south, there’s much less of that here in the North. That opportunity is our focus.
As a relatively young company, how have you found the tech and start-up scene in the North East so far?
The North East is well known as a supportive and friendly region. During our first two years of trading, we’ve been reminded that this friendly nature extends the region’s businesses, including the start-up and tech scene. People of all walks of life have given their time to tell us their story over a coffee, hear about ours, sketch us a picture, or validate one we’ve drawn ourselves!
It’s well known that the North East tech sector is experiencing rapid growth, albeit from a base that’s smaller than some other Northern regions. As we move into the 2020s, we think there’s huge reason for optimism. New tech landmarks like Newcastle Helix and Proto are really putting Northern tech on the map, and there are scale-ups with huge promise. Organisations like DU are important in guiding and leveraging the collaboration that comes naturally in the North, which will be important to maintain current momentum in tech sector growth.
How do you see Modular Law growing and evolving over the next 12 months?
Moving into our third year, we want to continue to develop a sustainable business which provides great service and value to clients, and a great place to work. We want to be a firm that Northern businesses think of right away when they need legal assistance with tech-based transactions. We expect to recruit in 2020, and we’re interested in talking to experienced lawyers that share our outlook.
Law is very trust based, and our client work to date, with some notable exceptions, has been based primarily on introductions made by close contacts. We’ve recently been widening our networking and focusing it around a new Business Development plan which learns from our first two years. So, we’re out and about meeting lots of fascinating people, in between the lawyering. Joining DU is a really important element of our networking, and we look forward to meeting more of the community soon. Roll on 2020!