Wellington Legal: The SME Answer to a Traditional Law Firm

By KOBE LAI

Having a lawyer who understands your world can make all the difference to your business.

With Hong Kong entering the Top 25 in Startup Genome’s 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, newly established companies in the Greater Bay Area have endless opportunities ahead of them. However, with opportunity comes caution, and most startups will someday have to seek legal solutions to help their business ventures.

Wellington Legal slots perfectly into this tapestry. Though it is a law firm, it was founded in 2017 as a startup itself,  growing quickly into an SME with more than 10 lawyers on board. It provides a variety of legal services to a select but prestigious client base, but also specializes in delivering creative and personalized packages to startups and SMEs.

Joseph Chow, Founding Partner at Wellington Legal, believes that their advantage in the latter field lies chiefly within the company’s background as a startup itself. The firm’s motto is “We think in your shoes,” priding itself on employing lawyers with commercial sense who openly welcome innovation, unlike traditional firms, which rarely bother to learn about tech or startup trends. 

Wellington Legal works in a highly collaborative manner, always taking time to understand the nature of a client’s business. Chow stresses that they are deal-makers, not deal-breakers. 

“While most lawyers are likely to reject novel ideas on legal grounds, we are flexible and try our best to revise your business so that the ideas can still be incorporated legally,” he says.

Chow also emphasizes how most startups never include legal costs as part of their budget, or grossly under-estimate the amount they should allocate to legal fees, what he sees as a critical early-stage mistake to avoid. 

“They also lack understanding in how to minimize their legal costs. When you have a limited budget, it is important to prioritize your legal needs,” he says. 

Chow cites the example of startups being unable to afford a full-scale shareholders’ agreement to protect their shareholders’ interests.  Wellington Legal is willing to help them to draft a short version or a Head of Agreement so at least they have something in writing to confirm the most foundational building blocks of their business. When the business starts to grow and can operate on a larger budget, Wellington Legal can then put together a full-scale agreement. 

Highly regarded for its responsiveness and quality of service, Wellington Legal offers services from business incorporation, commercial agreements, cross-border transactions, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, regulatory compliance, and intellectual property, to dispute resolution and international arbitration.

Moreover, Wellington Legal also serves as a minimalist platform for startups and SMEs. Members of the firm not only connect clients with each other, but spread the word about clients’ products or services as well.  

“I use our clients’ products and services as much as possible and I encourage my staff to do the same thing,” says Chow. This, he adds, is also a means for the firm to give thanks to clients for trusting Wellington Legal with their legal quandaries. 

Aside from its expertise in startups and SMEs, Wellington Legal boasts lawyers who operate internationally and speak several languages, ideal for businesses who want legal support to expand their operations. They are qualified in Hong Kong, the United States, Japan, England, New Zealand, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and Bermuda; they speak English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, French, German, and Spanish.

Chow envisions that Wellington Legal will evolve into a midsize firm with a global perspective within the next ten years. He puts emphasis on maintaining a manageable company size and employing staff who actually enjoy working in the firm. And as for clientele, the firm’s philosophy is simple: 

“Wellington Legal seeks clients who think we are their partners, not just their lawyers.”

Wellington Legal is looking for like-minded lawyers to join the firm. For more, please email Wellington Legal at [[email protected]].

Kobe is Jumpstart’s Editorial Intern.

This article was written in partnership with Wellington Legal.

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