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“A lot of startups tend to work based on trust and spoken agreements,” says Reina Menezes D’costa, founder and managing director of business and legal consultancy Bizlaw UK. But without written documents, problems can arise.

For example, one of her clients says they agreed to a fee of £10,000 to find a property for a restaurant. The work was agreed over the phone. But once the job was done, the restaurateur decided that he didn’t want to pay the agreed £10,000 anymore, he only wanted to pay £5,000 and also to make the payment in two installments.

“If my client went to court to enforce this verbal agreement he wouldn’t even recover the solicitor fees. We can offer guidance to help prevent losing out, like (creating) a proper contract… before work begins. The sooner you catch these issues and sort them out, the better. Once it goes to court it’s often too late,” she explains. Her motto is ’Prevention is better than cure.’

Flexible working for lawyers, flexible support for businesses

Bizlaw UK connects clients with experienced freelance lawyers. They provide both business and personal law specialists and cover a range of areas, from property buying to family divorce. Commercial expertise includes the areas of business to business and business to customer contracts, buying a small business, registering a UK trademark, advising on a dispute pre-litigation, privacy and cookie policies for websites and expanding a business into the UK.

“Our lawyers practise independently, just like a doctor might be attached to many different hospitals,” she says. “A lot of lawyers are now becoming consultants and getting out of the rat race of the city and pursuing models where they are their own boss and can practise the way they like.”

Bizlaw UK enables lawyers to find work and businesses to find the practical and personalised guidance they need. Reina says, “We have a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach, literally like their in-house lawyer but without the overheads. Clients can WhatsApp me at their convenience, they don’t have to meet. It saves us and them a lot of time compared to the traditional model which is very formal.” Most clients opt for a pay-as-you-go model with Bizlaw UK, which is a consultancy not a law firm.

Guidance for businesses

Reina Menezes D’costa qualified as a solicitor in the UK in 2000. She gained experience working both with individual clients and businesses, especially startups. She set up Bizlaw UK in 2012. She runs the company and also has her own clients.

One area of her expertise is the media sector. She can advise on film and TV production, distribution contracts and marketing. She also has experience in scrutinising misleading claims, especially when it comes to health or donations to charity.

Reina smiles at her desk
Reina Menezes D’costa, founder of Bizlaw UK

Her advice for starting a business includes making a business plan, looking fully into the business name and at competitors and establishing your Unique Selling Point (USP). Most importantly, she advises documenting any agreed commercial terms with customers or suppliers, in contracts to avoid disputes.

Reina also encourages businesses to think about funding and has a network of trusted providers to help. “Be practical and do your research before you leave your day job. Be flexible to tweak things along the way. And don’t beat yourself up for any mistakes you make - you only learn from your mistakes.”

Bizlaw UK is currently working with London Business Partnership, supported and fully funded by Harrow Council, to help scale up 80 startup businesses in the local area.

Flexible banking for everyone

Discovering more about Starling’s founder and CEO Anne Boden was what convinced Reina to apply for an app-based Starling business account. “I’m passionate about women changing the world,” she says. “Starling was a new name to me but once I looked at the credentials of the founder, I knew I was in trusted hands.” Anne spent 30 years working for the traditional banking heavyweights, such as RBS and AMN Amro, before starting Starling in 2014.

Reina says that supporting women is also part of why she set up a business that encourages flexible working. “I’ve always been an advocate of flexible working but even more so after I had my own kids. In law firms and large companies… if you didn’t ask, you wouldn’t get it and you had to be bold to ask and not worry about career prospects,” she says.

Reina stands outside in a warm looking coat
Reina uses Starling to manage her business finances

With Bizlaw UK, working where and when you want is the default. “You don’t need to be crammed into the tube like sardines. It’s all about having the choice to do it your way. If the Government is serious about climate change and mental health, encouraging remote and part-time working where possible in all businesses will be the way forward - technology enables it and it’s only mindset that’s holding us back.”

Find out more on the Bizlaw UK website.

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