Shireen Smith founded Azrights in 2005 nearly 3 years after her world was turned upside by her father’s sudden death. His unexpected passing had a profound impact on Shireen’s world view. He had often advised her to set up her own law firm so his words resonated with her now that he was gone. The idea took hold and Azrights was born.
For someone with little background in private practice (her main experience had been in an accountancy firm and a news agency: Coopers Lybrands, and Reuters), setting up a law firm was daunting.
Like with any business, one of the first questions to be decided was what name to call it.
The name ‘Azrights’ was eventually settled upon as it was distinctive enough to be registered as a trademark, and yet short, snappy, memorable and pronounceable (it is pronounced like you would say the words ‘As rights’).
The choice of name was inspired by the idea of an A to Z of rights, which actually reflects Azrights focus on being comprehensive, and covering the full range of IP issues when helping clients.
Shireen had gone into law because her father’s purchase of a business had led to litigation and an early exposure for her to the legal system. The financial advisers had provided poor advice, and seeking redress against them involved using a law firm. She realised how important good legal advice is to a business – how the law can make such a difference. So her driving ambition was to become the very best business lawyer she could be.
So, when she decided to set up Azrights, an important value was to provide expert services, excellent customer service, and to provide the legal services the market needed.
Digital IP focus
Given Shireen’s background as an in house lawyer at Reuters working with software developers, and salesmen of trading room systems it was inevitable that Azrights would also include IT and commercial law within its scope of services.
The firm’s ability to offer technical IT savvy expertise was bolstered when shortly after setting up her law firm, her husband Paul’s new business moved into the office next door to Azrights. With his 30 years background working in IT (latterly as a consultant on financial systems projects) for the likes of Merrill Lynch, Schroders, and Robert Fleming Paul proved to be an invaluable resource for Azrights.
With the benefit of the practical understanding of websites and more which Paul’s business provided, Azrights became experienced in digital IP legal issues.
In 2009 Shireen approached the British Library’s Business and IP Centre (BIPC) to offer workshops for start-ups aiming to set up an online brand and business. Paul accompanied
Shireen on those 3 hour workshops, providing the technical input when attendees had IT and web development queries.
In those days SEO, social media, websites and similar subjects were not on offer at the BIPC. A few years of delivering these quarterly workshops gave Shireen clarity about both the business and legal aspects of online business. Much of the workshop content culminated in her book, Legally Branded, which was published in 2012.
Mission and Values
Learning to convey complex ideas in plain English in order to teach the subject at the British Library was very much in line with the ideal at Azrights of communicating the law in plain English so clients are able to better understand their legal issues, and access the help they need.
The mission of Azrights is to
- Always pioneer the new products and services the market needs.
- Always focus on giving ‘super’ service to our clients.
- Always keep to the prices we quote.
- Keep to the timescales we agree with you or your matter requires.
- Use plain English in all our written work.
- Be specialists in the services we provide.
- Provide cost effective, value for money services based on your needs.
- Listen to what you need, and to be pro-active on your behalf.
- Avoid surprise invoices by not working on an hourly rate basis when possible.
Steve Jobs said each of us has the power to change the world in some way, and one way Azrights wants to do so is to provide cost effective services to SMEs so they can protect their IP and businesses as they grow.
Prevention of legal problems is at the heart of our focus because it’s often 10-20 times cheaper than a cure once a dispute has arisen. Also, because her father had received poor quality advice Shireen is determined that nobody receiving advice from Azrights should receive anything but the best possible advice.
Shireen has always been committed to offering value for money services. However, as business models in law began to change, and dispersed law firms emerged whose consultant lawyers were often able to undercut traditional law firms on price, Shireen became concerned that many businesses, many of them start-ups, were finding the services at Azrights beyond their reach.
Unless Azrights wanted to provide services at uneconomic rates it couldn’t compete with these one man bands operating under the umbrella of a law firm.
After thinking long and hard, the decision was made to create a membership site for clients. This is being introduced in 2018. One in place, any member of the site will have a very effective system for managing their legal needs. On top of that Azrights will include a price guarantee that if any lawyer (using their own templates) offers to provide documentation at a lower price than Azrights then Azrights will match them on price.
Our overriding objective is to provide a complete, and cost effective service to our clients so that different clients can have their different needs met. Those who are primarily looking for a budget service will get what they need at a fraction of the cost they now pay to any law firm, while clients looking for a service that works around their need to save time will also have a service designed around their requirements.
Azrights is transforming its client’s prospects by offering them the necessary resources and services they need to reach for success.
Submit an enquiry if you would like IP/IT help in your business.