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City law firms bid to get in early with fintechs by offering them free legal advice

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Could these start-ups be the banks of the future?

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Addleshaw Goddard has become the latest corporate law firm to try and capitalise on the potentially lucrative fintech market, offering free legal support to its entrepreneurial stars.

Unveiling its new ‘AG Elevate scheme’ earlier today — which follows similar initiatives by Slaughter and May and Simmons & Simmons — the firm revealed that its top fintech lawyers will provide gratis tailored legal advice and mentoring, worth as much as £500,000. The so-called ‘northern giant’ — due to its strong presence in both Leeds and Manchester — will initially offer the service to 16 businesses over a 12-month period.

The new programme will target both newbies to the fintech scene and more established players. Both routes offer “mentoring services and free legal advice, together with access to Addleshaw’s training sessions and networking events”. The application process will be announced at the launch event next week, along with details on the criteria for selection.

Fiona Ghosh, who heads up the firm’s fintech group, said:

We want to be at the heart of helping firms we work with to be a success. Fintechs often come to market quickly and need nimble advisers that they can work collaboratively with, who are responsive, as well as people they can talk to, who can offer guidance and support, rather than just providers of hard edged legal advice.

Today’s news comes less than a month after a similar scheme was trumpeted by magic circle outfit Slaughter and May.

Leaping aboard the fintech bandwagon, the firm announced that it would initially offer free legal advice to 10 UK-based startups. Selected by a panel of experts, the young tech up-and-comers will — along with £30,000 of legal support — have access to model legal documentation and bespoke mentoring in areas such a pitching and presenting.

Back in May, international giant Simmons & Simmons became one of the first firms to embrace the new movement, launching its ‘S&S FinTech Fund’. Setting aside over £100,000 to help “exciting” new fintech businesses, Simmons unveiled its first batch of beneficiaries last month, which included Cuvva, a business specialising in “hourly car insurance on-demand”.

Keen to know more about this hot new area of law? You can re-watch Legal Cheek’s FinTech, AI and online justice event here.