Welcome

Elevate Legal – new vision, new services, new team member!   

Elevate Legal celebrated our fourth birthday this week (virtually, of course!) We’d like to thank all our clients and supporters for the opportunity to work with them over this time, and we’re looking forward to the next four years.

While the Covid-enforced lockdown has created plenty of challenges this year, it’s also given us plenty of time for reflection, for thinking and planning – all the ‘important but not urgent’ work that always seems to sink to the bottom of our to-do list. Over the last few months, with some help from an experienced law firm whisperer (thanks John!) we’ve taken the opportunity to revisit & refresh Elevate Legal’s vision and strategy.

1. New Vision
We have a clearer vision of why we do what we do: We help Aussie tech companies conquer the world. We help founders to start up and scale up awesome technology companies. We help them grow and then be ready for external investment, a trade sale or an IPO.

We provide commercial legal solutions for growing companies, by focusing & specialising in what we’re best at – commercial contracts, intellectual property (especially software and SaaS), corporate compliance, capital raising and sales/acquisitions of unlisted companies. We’re intentionally not a ‘full service’ law firm. We stick to what we know, and partner with other specialists for the rest.

2. Guiding Principles
We’ve also tried to describe the foundations for how we work, including:

  • We’re OK being ourselves – lawyers can be human too.
  • No fuss. We don’t chase the limelight. We succeed by helping our clients succeed.
  • No politics, ego or competition. We succeed only as a team. Everyone plays their part.
  • Do it right, without overdoing it.

3. Hourly Rates, R.I.P.!
We want our services to reflect what our clients need, and our pricing models to reflect what value we provide for them. Accordingly, we are moving away from hourly rates to value-based pricing for all new engagements. Fixed fees have always been part of our offering, and currently about half of our matters are fixed fees – we’ll be working with our clients to transition the rest. (This won’t happen overnight, and we’ll be talking with each client about how best to make the transition.) We want to give our clients comfort and certainty – you should never be surprised by an invoice you get from us.

4. Alliance service
As part of this change we are also launching our new Alliance service – essential legal support for growing technology companies, and access to member-only benefits, all for a fixed monthly fee. The scope of the service comes in different tiers to match your company size. In the next few weeks we’ll be introducing the service to selected existing clients, before offering it more generally over the next few months. If you’d like to pre-register your interest, please email alliance@elevate.legal

5. Introducing Jackie Donald
To help us deliver on all this work, we’re delighted to welcome senior lawyer Jackie Donald to the team.

Jackie started with us this week, as Counsel. Jackie is an experienced corporate and commercial lawyer, with broad experience gained in top-tier law firms and in-house as a general counsel and company secretary. Jackie’s expertise spans commercial contracts, joint ventures, shareholders’ agreements and mergers and acquisitions, as well as corporate advisory and governance experience. Originally from Scotland, she has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from the University of Glasgow and completed the University of Sydney conversion course in 2008 when she settled in Australia. Jackie’s personal interests include running, reading and spending time with her two children.

Jackie is based in Perth – we are embracing the reality of our team members working from anywhere – and her personal profile is at: www.linkedin.com/in/jackie-donald-1b445282

6. New contact details
As part of our refresh, we have switched our emails to name@elevate.legal, and our main website is now www.elevate.legal. Finally, we have a new team phone number where you can contact us – 1300 582 715.

We’re excited by these changes, which we think can help us deliver even more value for our clients.

Best Wishes
Andrew, Roxie, Yee & Jackie

 

Client spotlight

Each newsletter we profile one of our clients doing amazing things.

In this edition, we’re proud to feature Converge International.

Converge International is Australia’s largest Employee Assistance Program provider (EAP). An EAP is a program for workplaces that focuses on the emotional, mental and psychological wellbeing of all employees. Converge partners with 1,200 organisations across Australia and New Zealand to cover 2 million employees. Converge is owned by an Australian registered charity, Reventure Limited, and serves both Australian and Global organisations as one of the most experienced corporate mental health care providers in Australia.

During the Covid-19 Pandemic Converge acted quickly to create a Coronavirus Resource and Support Hub for existing members to access, with the ability for new organisations to sign up for access. CEO Jenny George has also appeared in the media recently to highlight the importance of mental wellbeing in the workplace, particularly in a Global Pandemic. An example can be seen here. https://www.convergeinternational.com.au/

 

What else is keeping us busy

Here’s some other projects we’ve worked on with our clients over the last few months. 

  • Completing a trade sale of a local software business, Gluh, to US-based Datto Inc.
  • Advising a Sydney based software firm on the sale of a minority stake to financial and strategic investors
  • Helping several clients with capital raising – SAFE notes and issues of ordinary and preference shares
  • Helping founders set up new businesses, bring in co-founders, key staff, non-executive directors and advisors
  • Software / SaaS contract terms
  • Reseller and distribution agreements
  • Intellectual property licences, assignments and other transactions
  • Preparing, reviewing and advising on lots of commercial contracts
  • Reviewing Privacy Policies

If you’re looking for similar solutions please get in touch.

Legal briefing

Insolvency Reform announced

In response to the Covid-19 Pandemic the Federal Government introduced temporary insolvency relief, which has now been extended from 24 September 2020 until 31 December 2020.

This temporary relief makes it harder for creditors to take action against a company, as follows:

  • Threshold at which a creditor can issue a statutory demand is increased from $2,000 to $20,000.
  • The time limit on a company to respond to a statutory demand is increased from 21 days to six months.
  • Threshold for amount of debt required for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against a debtor is increased from $5,000 to $20,000.

The changes also extend the temporary relief for directors from personal liability for the company trading while insolvent.

The Government has also announced plans to introduce a new insolvency process, whereby companies with liabilities of less than $1 million will be able to continue trading without the appointment of an administrator while they develop a debt restructuring plan. The debt restructuring plan will be voted on by creditors. The reforms are due to commence on 1 January 2021, once the current temporary measures, introduced due to Covid-19, expire.

The changes are aimed at streamlining the insolvency process for small businesses. It will involve a Small Business Restructuring Practitioner helping the business to prepare a debt restructuring plan, to certify the plan to creditors, and to oversee disbursements once the plan is in place.

A small business will have 20 business days to develop the plan before it is presented to the creditors. During this time unsecured (and some secured) creditors will not be able to take action against the company (similar to when a company is in voluntary administration). Once the plan is certified, the creditors then have 15 business days to vote on the plan and this will include the remuneration of the Small Business Restructuring Practitioner. For the plan to be approved it requires 50% of creditors by value to vote in favour. Importantly all employee entitlements that are due and payable must be paid in full before the plan is voted on by creditors.

If the plan is approved, the business is able to continue to operate while the Small Business Restructuring Practitioner administers the plan. Administering the plan includes having the power to stop the process where there is misconduct, this includes any illegal ‘phoenix company’ activity.

If the plan is not approved, the company may go into voluntary administration or a new liquidation process with simplified obligations:

  • Regulatory obligations for the liquidator will be more appropriate for the asset base, complexity and risk profile of a small business.
  • The reduced obligations will likely reduce costs thereby increasing returns to creditors and employees.
  • The circumstances a liquidator can seek to claw back unfair preference payments from creditors will be limited.
  • Simplification of the proof of debt and dividend payment process by using technology.

 

Consumer Guarantees to apply to more ‘Consumers’

From 1 July 2021 more consumers will be able to rely on the consumer guarantee protections under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) when purchasing goods and / or services.

Currently the definition of ‘consumer’ in section 3 of the ACL deems a person to have acquired goods or services as a consumer where the amount paid is $40,000 or less (regardless of whether the goods or services are for personal, domestic or household use or consumption). From 1 July 2021 this threshold will increase to $100,000.

The same regulation will also amend the ASIC Act, increasing the same thresholds for financial services – meaning that a person will be taken to be a ‘consumer’ where they have acquired financial services for $100,000 or less.

 

Covid-19 Reading List (Continued) 

In the last newsletter I confessed to some false starts on my lockdown reading, before redemption in a re-reading of an old favourite, Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet.

The theme continued with my next tome, Don DeLillo’s Underworld. This is a big novel – in length, scope and ambition. I read it in 1999 while living in South Carolina – appropriately enough, as it’s an ode to the USA from the 1950s on. Certainly not as light-hearted (or warm-hearted) as Cloudstreet, it’s an impressive and immersive read all the same, especially if, like me, you’re a little bit obsessed with modern US history, politics and society. (I am remaining silent about the current President. I promise.)

After that I needed something quick and easy – hence American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, a pacy enough but ultimately unsatisfying tale of a Mum and son fleeing the Mexican drug cartels.

From there things got darker, in the form of Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth, by Gitta Sereny, a 1996 biography of Hitler’s architect, Minister in charge of war production (can you imagine a careers counsellor ever coupling those two occupations?) and, perhaps, Hitler’s closest friend. Speer was a brilliant organiser and a fascinating figure – his (uncommon) decision to take responsibility for Nazi war crimes at the Nuremberg trials may have saved him from execution (he got 20 years’ prison) but polarised views about him. How much did he really know about the Holocaust and other crimes committed by his colleagues? I had not heard of Speer before – this was a book of my father in law’s that I souvenired some years ago – and I’m glad I did. It’s well written and the subject is absorbing….albeit on the dark side of the spectrum…!

For something more upbeat and local, I’ve ordered Trent Dalton’s second book, All Our Shimmering Skies. I loved his first novel, Boy Swallows Universe, and am looking forward to getting lost in his new one.

 

Happy reading!
Andrew