We’re not shy about saying that we’ve really enjoyed working with Charles Knight and Bryan McKae at Venture Law Advisors in Denver. They’re super innovative and are just a pleasure to work with. So we were really excited when they came to us with the idea of launching VentureExpress. Here’s our conversation with Bryan McKae about how this exciting project came about…
1. What’s different about Venture Law Advisors and how does it fit into today’s legal marketplace?
My partner, Charles Knight, has been a startup founder and is an active angel investor, and he always noticed that the phrases “quality business and legal advice” and “reasonable rates” were never used in the same sentence. So he founded Venture Law Advisors in 2009 on the belief that by keeping overhead low, VLA’s business-oriented attorneys could provide a high level of legal and business support to emerging companies under fee arrangements that make sense.
In the last three years, we’ve learned that being different is more than keeping overhead low and offering alternative fee arrangements. Instead, we now recognize that producing commonly-used documents needs to be as efficient as everything else our clients do. Legal services can’t be the broken link. Using highly sophisticated document assembly technology, we now spend less time drafting documents and more time providing our clients the higher value legal and strategic guidance they need.
2. What made you want to launch VentureXpress?
While most of our clients occasionally have unique needs that require customized legal solutions, we found that most emerging companies had the same or similar needs at some point in their life cycle. So rather than re-inventing the wheel each time a client needed incorporation documents, an equity incentive plan, or an employment agreement, we decided to create semi-customizable, yet canned packages of legal products we could provide on a flat-fee basis. We offer those products under our VentureXpress platform.
Our VentureXpress products are not one-size-fits-all products. We selected Brightleaf as our document assembly solution because it allows us a great amount of customization to satisfy most business needs. And when a client requires a customized legal solution, we can often start working from a VentureXpress product, thereby reducing the amount of time we need to invest in that custom solution.
The VentureXpress products are designed with enough sophistication that our incorporation packages, as an example, are suitable for a startup company that plans to seek venture or other institutional capital. So we think they are better than what you would receive from an online, self-help service, and you get to speak with a VLA attorney.
3. You mentioned Brightleaf. How does Brightleaf allow you to provide your VentureXpress products?
Brightleaf allows us to convert our commonly-used legal forms into web-based templates that adjust and provide different customization options as we build a document for our client. And our lawyers create those templates, not programmers with no legal training. We also use a Brightleaf service called “Leaflets” to engage with our clients and provide them with a web-based questionnaire where they can submit deal terms and party information that either helps us complete their documents or allows them to create documents on their own. This reduces intake time, and most clients who use this service tend to better understand their legal documents.
4. I see that right now people can come onto the VentureXpress site and create an NDA. Where are you hoping to go from here?
We just released our first VentureXpress public legal form that uses Brightleaf’s Leaflets service. This is a self-help website that allows anyone to create their own legal forms for free. Anyone who creates a document using the public legal forms site needs to consult with an attorney before using those documents, but the service is designed to help users create those documents more efficiently. We are using the mutual non-disclosure agreement to generate user-feedback, but we intend to release more commonly-used forms relatively soon. We also have a few other tricks in our bag, but I can’t share those yet.
5. Aren’t lawyers supposed to be slow to embrace new technologies?
Yes, but you guys make us look good.
Aww, thanks Bryan! And thanks for sharing your story!