In a move that highlights the rapid expansion of the legal startup ecosystem in Asia-Pacific, Australia’s Mills Oakley has launched the region’s first legal startup accelerator. Central to this effort is Mills Oakley’s CEO John Nerurker. In our continuing coverage of the region’s legal startup scene – here’s our interview with John Nerurker about this groundbreaking initiative:
What is the Mills Oakley Innovation Accelerator and what support will it be providing legal startups in the Asia-Pacific region?
Mills Oakley Innovation Accelerator is the first example of a law firm in the Asia Pacific adapting the Accelerator concept to the legal services industry.
Our Accelerator is an end-to-end innovation program which offers new law entrepreneurs and start-ups the funding, tools and support they need to grow their idea into a viable businesses.
The “end to end” aspect is important – entrepreneurs do not necessarily need to have business experience or their own start-up entity to participate. e will provide the appropriate training and support to ensure that participants with a viable ideas make a professional pitch to our judging panel.
We are offering up to $500,000 in start-up capital and support The support will include:
- Stipend to cover living expenses during the incubation period
- Product design and marketing support from Collective Campus, our partner in this initiative
- Mentorship from start-up experts
What opportunity do you see in the Asia-Pacific region for legal startups?
Opportunity for legal start-ups comes from two key sources. First, there is a substantial appetite in the corporate and government in-house sector to drive efficiencies, either by approaching alternative service providers directly or by accessing services via a traditional law firm intermediary. The old mantra “doing more with less” has been a reality in the in-house profession and shows no sign of weakening. This is the first source of opportunity for start-ups that can demonstrate viable methods of making legal services more efficient.
Secondly, there is the opportunity at the individual or private client level. Just as we are seeing the rise of “Dr Google” for medical queries, there is a similar market for individuals and small businesses attempting to self-diagnose legal problems, or at least take an active part in identifying the legal practitioner and price level suitable for their query. e have already seen a number of offerings in this area.
There are a number of start-ups competing in a similar space all will be successful in the longer term, but this is a normal part of the innovation cycle.
How will more law firms become involved with startups in the legal sector in the coming years?
Law firm engagement with start-ups seems to fall into two broad categories. First, there is the provision of legal services to start-ups and a number of firms have developed tailored offerings in this area. These initiatives are topical because of the renewed interest in start-ups, but essentially they are a reboot & rebrand of the services that law firms have provided to smaller businesses and entrepreneurs for many years.
Secondly, law firms have partnered with start-ups either as an investment or with a view to developing a new offering in conjunction with the start-up. I suspect this will become the dominant method of law firm engagement with start-ups because it provides some indication of the ROI the firm can expect to achieve.
The alternative is for firms to run an Accelerator process themselves.
How can legal startups get involved with the Mills Oakley Innovation Accelerator?
We welcome submissions from all interested individuals and entities. As a starting point, we recommend viewing our custom site at We have developed a FAQ section for common queries and entrepreneurs can make submissions via the site or drop us a line to discuss the process further.