Snapshot of Legal123
- Legal123.com.au is a website specialising in providing inexpensive, easy-to-use legal agreements, forms and templates for everyday Australians.
- It is unique in its use of online videos to walk customers step-by-step through filling out the document templates and explaining key clauses. Plus there is telephone support if you get stuck or have a question.
- The documents are all written in plain English and the process of completing the templates is very user-friendly – “Easy as 1-2-3”.
- There are legal agreements, forms and templates specifically for individuals, families, small businesses, online businesses and property owners. For example: Wills, Confidentiality Agreements, Letters of Demand, Legals for Websites, Holiday Rental Agreements, etc.
- Legal123.com.au is the leading Australian-owned legal website and rapidly becoming ‘the’ online reference for Australian legal information, frequently cited by Ask.com, Experts123.com and Wikihow.com.
- The website was started by Vanessa Emilio, a qualified Lawyer and Practice Director with more than 20 years experience in corporate, banking, finance and trust law.
Interview with Vanessa Emilio (September 2009)
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get involved in starting up Legal123.com.au?
Well, I’m a qualified lawyer and company secretary in Australia with over 13 years of legal experience. I’ve worked in a whole range of legal arenas, including Freehills, Macquarie Bank and Citibank.
After speaking with a lot of my friends, colleagues and family members, I believe that many people are lacking basic legal agreements to take charge of their everyday lives – and don’t have the time or money to see expensive lawyers.
In starting Legal123.com.au I wanted to address this problem and help them understand they could easily look after some of their legal affairs themselves. In today’s world you need to be increasingly self-sufficient – look after your own retirement savings, ongoing education, job opportunities – so I set out to show people that they could also do this with legal matters and it’s not scary or difficult to understand.
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So what is Legal123.com.au?
Legal123.com.au aims to do 3 things:
- Be an online resource for basic legal questions – everyday, common issues like “Do I need a Will?”, “What is a Power of Attorney and how do I use one?”, “What is a Letter of Demand?” and so on.
- Provide easy-to-use, easy-to-understand document templates and forms for these everyday legal situations. People coming to the website can easily download, fill in, print and sign – all in a matter or minutes and in the comfort of their own home. The templates are all affordable and available for immediate download.
- Use online video to walk people through the documents, explain the important clauses and understand what they’re filling in. I really wanted people to understand what they were doing and see how easy it could be. It’s not brain surgery!
How is Legal123.com.au different to other online businesses, particularly other legal service sites?
We believe passionately in making things simple, easy-to-use and easy-to-understand. The best way to communicate online is through video and so we provide video instructions – alongside written instructions – to step you through the process of completing one of our templates or forms.
Plus, we really want you to understand what you are signing or what form you are using. Key clauses in the documents are explained in the online videos – but it’s not laborious, we’re talking a simple 5-8 minute online video, not War and Peace!
And all the legal black magic has been removed – the agreements are written in plain English, so you can actually understand what you’re doing.
So how much technical or legal understanding does a person need to use one of the documents on Legal123.com.au?
Very little technical knowledge. Most people these days are familiar with buying online and reading PDF format (Adobe Acrobat) documents. We use the PDF format because it’s the most widely used online and you just click between a few input fields.
There is NO legal understanding required. The point of Legal123.com.au was always to ensure people understand what they are filling in, what to use and when to use it. The video instructions step people through this and there are additional FAQ and walk-through videos to answer questions about the templates and what they mean.
How long does it take to fill out a document or form from Legal123.com.au?
The online video instructions are all between 4 and 8 minutes long. If you choose to watch the FAQ and walk-through videos, then they’re about the same length again.
What types of products or documents does Legal123.com.au offer?
The website is divided into 4 categories: Personal/Family, Small Business, Online Business and Property Owners.
The Personal/Family category contains everyday documents like a Will; Codicil to amend a Will; Power of Attorney in the event you travel and need to have bills paid, mail picked up or things done on your behalf; Separation Agreement and other documents and forms.
The Small Business category has Confidentiality Agreements in the event you need to speak to others about a new business idea or personal financial information; a Service Agreement if you want to hire a contractor or consultant to help with work or your business. The site also has a Letter of Demand template to formally make a claim to recoup money owed to you. Plus there are other useful documents to help you start up a business and still more to come.
Lastly, the Property Owner section has Leases for residential and commercial property and information to help you understand the requirements and what to watch out for if you rent or have property to rent.
We are continually adding and making more products available, so keep checking the site!
What if someone comes to Legal123.com.au with a more complex issue that your documents can’t deal with?
That’s a really good question. We know that we can’t help everybody but rather than “throw you to the sharks” we’ve assembled a panel of specialist lawyers to refer people to. They’re all reasonably priced and experts in their field.
If we can’t help you, we will try to send you to a recommended lawyer that can.
What is your ultimate goal with Legal123.com.au?
It would be great to become a recognized online brand in Australia – the “go to” site for easy-to-use and easy-to-understand legal forms and agreements. In the meantime though, just having people who have used Legal123.com.au recommend it to their friends and family. That is the ultimate compliment and would make us proud.
Legal information on the web is not presented in an easy-to-understand way. We work very hard on our site to make the information accessible – the pages are logically laid out, the information in organized in a series of FAQs, all the information is on one page – not too long mind you. We want you to read it, not be put off. In that way, we hope to help people take charge of their own lives and have the legal tools to do this. For example, every adult should have a Will – but 55% of Australian adults do not!
By providing the reference information, documents, templates and forms on Legal123.com.au, we hope to both educate and make people realize it is easy-to-use and easy-to-understand things that they previously thought were complicated, expensive and time consuming.
I actually believe we are beginning to achieve recognition as an educational and reference tool for people as Legal123.com.au is already being referenced on both Ask.com and Experts123.com.
Do you have a strategy to achieve this and become more well known to the Australian public?
Word of mouth is really important and getting found on the Internet is vital. We distribute articles, videos and press releases online to get that broader exposure. Plus we encourage visitors to the website to bookmark it, “like it” on Facebook, recommend it to their friends and colleagues.
We’re also working with partners, specialists in legal fields we can’t cover. If we are not able to meet someone’s needs with our templates, we try and recommend a lawyer that can help. Similarly, if those lawyers have clients that they feel should use our service, they’ll send them our way.
In addition, we are involved in an exciting new venture working with Resimac, a well respected Australian financial services company, to provide their clients with our products and services. We strive to have great products and so working with others who also have a strong ethical belief in good products and services and stand by this, is a great combination.
Madonna starts her online business
Madonna had a great idea for an online hairdresser supply business – but she needed some help with marketing, technology and finances to get started. She needed to be able to discuss her ideas with other people and identify a suitable business partner. The problem she had was she was afraid they would steal her unique idea.
After looking around online, Madonna found the Confidentiality Agreement package at Legal123.com.au. With it she was able to exchange confidential information and have open discussions about her idea without worrying someone would copy it.
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Madonna was thrilled with the result: “I’m not very technical and I don’t have much time, with running my current business and having small children to look after … I was ecstatic to find I only had to fill in 6 items, press the button and then the legal aspects of the website were done!”
Rob finally gets paid
Rob is a self-employed Strategy Consultant. He had been working with a high-tech company for over 6 months. They paid him once during the assignment but then said they’d prefer to pay the remainder he was due once the assignment was completed. He suspected they were having cashflow issues.
Rob diligently finished his work but when he tried to collect on the outstanding invoices, the company ignored him. He phoned repeatedly, but, although they made promises, they never paid him.
Luckily Rob found Legal123.com.au online and downloaded the Letter of Demand template. Within 6 weeks of following this more formal action the company paid up and he recovered almost all of the outstanding fees owed him for over 12 months.
Judy takes a trip to India
Judy had planned a trip to India to attend a yoga retreat. She was going to be gone for 4 weeks over December and thought she might receive some parcels in the mail before Christmas. She was also not sure what else may arise while she was gone and was worried her partner would not be able to look after any unexpected bills or emergencies in her absence.
Judy found and downloaded the Power of Attorney form from Legal123.com.au the night before she left. This gave her partner the authority to pick up her mail, pay any urgent bills on her behalf and generally stay on top of any outstanding issues while she was away.
Judy was able to leave for her trip overseas with the peace of mind that her partner was really able to manage things in her absence. It was as simple as that.
Danielle needs a Will quickly
Danielle went into hospital for routine operation and they found a lump which they removed – it turned out to be cancerous tumour.
As Danielle lived alone and was unable to walk around for some time after her operation, she spent some time in a care facility. There she worried that she had not written a Will and her ex-husband would try and claim all her assets.
She told her daughter about her concerns and her daughter searched the Internet for an easy-to-use Will. The Will kit at Legal123.com.au seemed perfect.
The next day, the daughter brought Danielle a laptop with the downloaded Will template. Together they filled out the Will template. The questions they had while completing the Will were all able to be answered by the online videos included in the kit. The nurses even helped witness Danielle’s Will.
Media Kit Downloads
Here are a number of downloads you might find useful:
- Legal123.com.au Launch Press Release (PDF format, 2 pages)
- Legal123.com.au Launch Press Release (Word format, 2 pages)
- Vanessa Emilio Interview (PDF format, 4 pages)
- Vanessa Emilio Interview (Word format, 4 pages)
- Vanessa Emilio Bio (PDF format, 1 page)
- Vanessa Emilio Bio (Word format, 1 page)
- Vanessa Emilio Photo (JPEG format, 225px by 270px, 74kb)
- Vanessa Emilio Photo (JPEG format, 600px by 720px, 482kb)
- Vanessa Emilio Photo (JPEG format, 1500px by 1800px, 2.5mb)
- Legal123 Logo (JPG format, 1400px by 243px, 115kb)
- Legal123 Logo transparent (PNG format, 1400px by 243px, 94kb)
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