A Nyngan business is pioneering the use of digital tools to deliver professional services across Australia.
LawLab has its national headquarters in Pangee Street, and is now Australia’s largest national conveyancing firm.
They have completed more than 25,000 transactions and handled over $10 billion worth of property, all made possible through their digital platform ‘Rundle’, which enables consumers and service providers to access contracts securely online.
Managing director Ian Perkins, who established the firm alongside partner Richard Bootle, said digital technology, and the National Broadband Network, could be the silver bullet for declining rural towns.
“This the future of business in the bush. You don’t need to pay large rent and you don’t need a city-based workforce,” he said.
“It’s the way that people will return to the country.”
Ian and Richard both worked in national, city-based law firms before returning to the Bootle family’s mixed enterprise farm. Then the millennium drought hit.
In 2004 the pair commissioned research to see if consumers would conduct their legal dealings online, without seeing their lawyers face-to-face.
The market wasn’t ready.
So LawLab turned to the corporate and government sectors, becoming one of the major firms involved with the Commonwealth’s Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
In 2012 they revisited their idea of providing professional services to remote customers online. They now employ 30 people in Nyngan, and bring graduates to the town to be trained each year.
“We have first year solicitors and graduate lawyers come out to Nyngan and we train them in multiple jurisdictions and property law,” Ian said.
“It’s about the culture of our team. But it’s also about supporting Nyngan.
“We attract talent here … and these people live and work here, they shop and spend their money here, they join sporting teams and clubs, they contribute to the town and that’s a goal for us – that’s part of what we’re trying to achieve, to keep Nyngan alive and well and to show that people can do this.”
The Rundle platform is now run as a separate business, and while the software developers are in Melbourne, the platform was born in Nyngan.
It’s now widely available and used by real estate agents, brokers and engineer and project management businesses.
“This is a genuine enabler for smaller businesses. It’s a way for them to engage in the digital economy without spending millions of dollars,” Ian said.
“Being in the bush is not a barrier to having a smart idea and then creating a business around it.
“The biggest barrier is getting other people to work with you … we put our staff through university and training courses. It can be a longer journey but then you get loyal people who stay with you for a long time.”