On Your Mark, Get Set, Start-Up: Osborne Clarke offers first virtual general counsel services to start-up companies

July 17, 2019

3 min read

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What's going on here?

Osborne Clarke recently launched a program, named Osborne Clarke Ventures, that informs and prepares tech start-ups for their Series A round (the first important round of venture capital financing) and will offer the start-ups virtual general counsel to ensure that the firms are constantly up-to-date on the latest developments in the process.

What does this mean?

The program, Osborne Clarke Ventures, will support 8-10 handpicked tech start-ups in order to help prepare them best for the early stages of financing. Osborne Clarke held a “dragon’s den” style event to select which start-ups would participate in the program with the panel of expert “dragons”. These “dragons” included Sam Endacott (an early stage VC investor at Firstminute Capital), Frank Webster (Head of Corporate Development at Foundersfactory), Catherine Hammon (Digital Transformation Knowledge Lawyer) and Ashley Hurst (Partner and Tech, Media and Comms International Sector Head) both of whom are at Osborne Clarke.

The program is headed by Simon Jones, a partner in Osborne Clarke’s Corporate practice, who explained the purpose of the program: “We know that preparing for financing rounds is an important stage of all early stage companies’ development, but often it’s difficult to get the right advice, delivered in the timescales required and at a price that meets budget requirements”. Osborne Clarke will offer a tailored and personal legal service to the start-ups that are selected to participate in the program so that they feel adequately informed and confident about continuing to grow their fledgling companies.

What's the big picture effect?

With tech start-up incubators becoming a fast-emerging trend for international commercial law firms, Osborne Clarke has placed itself amongst the world leaders with its program Osborne Clarke Ventures. Slaughter & May launched its first legal tech incubator Collaborate in May, whilst Allen & Overy’s Fuse tech innovation program is now onto its third cohort of new members.

What is different about Osborne Clarke Ventures is that it does not focus specifically on legal tech start-ups but is looking more widely at tech start-ups. This will allow Osborne Clarke to have the opportunity to attract a wider range of clients.

Moreover, the program is a win-win situation for both Osborne Clarke and the participants of the new program. Successfully undertaking a Series A round can make or break start-ups, who do not normally have experience in this area. If a company wishes to continue to grow and go on to launch an IPO, obtaining reliable investors that a company can work with effectively at the Series A round is essential. A Series A round brings a new level of scrutiny to these start-ups who will now need more due diligence at all levels and must appear highly competent to potential investors. In addition, Series A is a high-risk procedure with 3 out of 4 companies failing before Series B, according to PwC, as well as being a complicated and time-consuming procedure. Start-ups must evolve from just being a bright idea to being able to convince investors of their competency and potential for long-term growth.

Law firms like Osborne Clarke are essential for ensuring this complicated process runs as smoothly as possible, with Osborne Clarke’s offer of virtual general counsel making top legal advice available whenever the client needs it. The program showcases Osborne Clarke’s “personalised service” in a sector that offers a great deal of promise and is a specialist area for the firm. The program could also develop strong client relations with growing companies from an early stage, whilst simultaneously allowing Osborne Clarke’s lawyers to learn more about what start-ups are most concerned about in the Series A round.

Report written by Will Holmes

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