As American company Rocket Lawyer starts to take on the UK, we chat to Vice President Mark Edwards about the business.

Pitch us the concept... We are an online legal service on a mission to provide straightforward and affordable legal help across the UK. We want people to try us for free, and so have introduced a free three day trial for everyone. If you like us, then membership costs just £25.00 a month, and with it you can create all the essential legal documents you need, hold one 30 minute consultation with an on-call lawyer each month and get a discount of up to 33% off additional legal fees. What makes us unique is that we combine easy-to-create online legal documents with access to a wide network of specialist lawyers from around the UK. 

We came up with the idea when... Rocket Lawyer was founded in the US by Charley Moore. He realised through working with individuals, start-ups, and small businesses that there wasn’t a simple and affordable way for them to manage all of their everyday legal needs. That's why he created Rocket Lawyer. The fact that it is now the most widely used online legal service in America demonstrates the gap that existed in the market and the need for this kind of service. Since we launched in the UK at the beginning of 2013, we have found that consumers and small businesses face the same issues here, and that our service is growing rapidly in popularity.

The biggest challenge is... to emulate the success of the US. We intend to be the first online port of call for legal advice in the UK. Most people are going online for legal advice now (over 50%) and we want them to come to us first.

The average day is spent... Rocket Lawyer UK is still in its first year, so there is not an average day as such; however, we are consistently focused on extending our products. In fact, each month we are adding more than 10 new legal documents onto our website. Most of these documents are for businesses so far, and so we are going to increase our consumer documents by the end of the year. 

The team consists of... The US company has around 200 employees, and we are a growing team of 10 in the UK at the moment, including lawyers, marketing experts, customer services, and software developers. Next year we will expand UK operations as the demand continues to grow, especially our customer service team.

Our USP is... Rocket Lawyer is a complete online legal service. Unlike some online legal services we work with actual lawyers. They create the documents first to make sure they're watertight. We also connect consumers and businesses with our on-call lawyers when extra-legal help is needed. The initial advice from a lawyer is free as part of your Rocket Lawyer membership, and we have negotiated up to a third off of legal fees for our customers, which no other service offers.

In five years we’d like to be... As we have only been around for less than a year we take each day as it comes, but in terms of goals for this year we want to expand to Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as extending our three day trial to a week so people have more time to try us out. Also, we’re currently focusing on small businesses, but by the end of the year we want to create more documents for individuals and families too.

Our best piece of advice for gaining investment... We were invested in by Google Ventures who are interested in assisting start-ups. Crowd-funding is a very current way of gaining investment and is available for everybody. Although starting out in America, crowd-funding is beginning to boom in Europe too, with 44 websites in Britain and over 100 in existence across the rest of Europe. It’s appealing as it only takes around nine weeks for a crowd-funded project to be complete. Just ensure you get confidentiality agreements and a shareholders' agreement to ensure maximum security.

Our biggest mistake and what it taught us... We are fortunate, as it has been a fairly smooth process helped by the fact that we’ve seen the journey of our US counterpart and learnt from their mistakes. 

The most rewarding experience we’ve had to date... It’s rewarding to know we are helping people! Already we’ve had around 80,000 documents created so far this year, with 200,000 people visiting the Rocket Lawyer UK site. Encouragingly, about half of the people and businesses who have tried our free trial liked us so much they bought a plan and one in three of our customers have asked for help from an on-call lawyer. Also, we have just been shortlisted for the FT Innovative Lawyers Awards 2013 in the category of Legal Industry Pioneer. This year’s awards drew on 600 submissions from leading law firms across Europe, so being shortlisted is a really great accolade for us. Needless to say, we’d like to win.

September 2013.