Commercial law advisors Whipping the Cat are poised to disrupt the status quo of the traditional, high cost legal industry by becoming a fixed cost legal partner for businesses of any size. The boutique consultancy has this week announced the launch of its fixed-fee commercial legal services, aimed primarily at modern small- to medium-sized businesses, and also catering to the outsourcing needs of larger corporates.
Offering a fresh new approach to commercial law through its pre-determined billing model, Whipping the Cat will provide a wide range of corporate legal services. These include: intellectual property advice; the drafting and vetting of contracts such as leases, business terms, license agreements, distribution agreements, franchise agreements, service contracts and teaming agreements and all employment-related matters. All services will be quoted for upfront and billed on a fixed fee basis, enabling clients to budget for their annual legal spend. This is a first for the South African commercial law sector, where legal advisory outsourcing and a fixed fee business model are virtually unheard of.
“Every business requires high quality legal advice from time to time, but unless you have an open-ended legal budget – which few businesses do – the sound of a traditional law firm’s fee clock notching up billable hours can be daunting,” says Whipping the Cat founder and CEO, Graeme Wilson.
Client Alana Bond, the MD of Johannesburg-based economic development company Simanye, agrees. “Just because we are a small business does not mean we are not exposed to big risks, and if something goes wrong, we could be out of business overnight. But despite the risks, we can’t afford big legal bills. We use Whipping the Cat for all our employee-related matters and to put the right commercial agreements in place. They do this for us pragmatically and without unnecessary legalese. This gives me peace of mind that the legal aspects are understood and taken care of, and frees me up to focus on delivering to our clients.”
Through the use of technology and the employment of an outsourced legal consulting model, Whipping the Cat promises to provide high quality, skills-based legal services at a fair price, quoted upfront for a fixed annual fee.
Rasheed Hargey, CEO of Cape Town-based communications solutions provider Tellumat, says that the freedom to adjust his legal package according to his company’s requirements has been beneficial.
“We had a retainer contract with Graeme that we were under-using and we were paying more than we could justify every month. When he suggested we scale down our monthly package to a level more appropriate for our business’ needs, I was delighted. The fact that they initiated the fee reduction on our pre-determined fee was a welcome change.”
Depending on business size and options selected, clients will be given 24-hour access to online templates, tool kits and a library of information, to empower them to complete contracts and find answers to legal questions specific to their business any time of the day or night. In conjunction with its online business dashboard, Whipping the Cat’s legal advisory solution offers clients direct access to a team of legal professionals, allowing for one-on-one consulting whenever this is required – but never with the clock ticking.
“Our service effectively amounts to having your own in-house legal counsel, but only as and when your company needs it. This drastically reduces costs while giving clients the peace of mind that legally, their business is always covered,” adds Wilson. “Companies wanting to put a cap on their annual legal spend can opt for an annual contract with fixed monthly payments.”
The benefits of constant access to expert legal advice can also be passed on to one’s customers. Andy Sutcliffe, Group CEO of advertising agency 34, says: “Our clients are always asking us for help with the legalities around promotions and competitions. Through Whipping the Cat we are able to offer a value-adding legal service to ensure that the terms and conditions used in much of the marketing material we produce are fully compliant. This extends our agency’s offering and takes the headache out of running promotional campaigns for our clients.”
“We believe that there is an opportunity to demystify law and make legal services more accessible to a wider range of companies, while giving businesses the ability to effectively budget for an entire year’s legal fees.”