ALTA Member Profile | Stephen Foley, Founder and MD, TA Law
Tell us a bit about your background.
My father and grandfather were barrister clerks in Melbourne. By default I think the law was in my blood and in particular working with barristers and clerks. It was the 80s and Microsoft DOS was being introduced. I was fascinated by computers and I imagined a world where computers could do all the mundane chores in life giving us all more free time to do the things we enjoy. Ok I got the last part of that wrong.
Instead of following in my father and grandfather’s footsteps, I began the mission of computerising tasks that could be better handled by a computer.
This included creating the first chambers diary to keep track of barristers appointments. Accounting and mailroom systems followed. In the 90’s Windows arrived and I built a system called Transcript Analyser for the NSW Police Royal Commission for handling real time transcripts.
In the late 90’s I worked in the UK and in the 2000’s mainly the US. In 2006 I started working with cloud solutions and basically migrated many of the systems written in the earlier years to the cloud.
The latest product eBrief Ready is really a culmination of all this work and I now have a small team supporting its evolution. These days, product development includes:
- Building the product
- Marketing the product
- Having a comprehensive security audit
All three are needed and are equally important.
Describe a typical day in your life at TA Law.
I don’t think any day is typical. I basically keep an eye on all aspects of the business – development, marketing, sales and support and make sure we are moving forward with our overall plan. I have a great team around me so in some ways I support them in whatever part of the process they need help in.
I am fanatical about support so I do keep a close watch on this area. How well we handle support is the heartbeat of the organisation.
Looking back, when and where do you think the TA Law journey first ‘began’?
In the 80’s with a vision of what computers could do.
TA Law has achieved some major milestones, and offers a number of services today (including BarristerSELECT, eBrief Ready and iChambers) – well done. How did you find the process of convincing investors, barristers and clerks of its value in the early days?
I don’t have investors, although I often contemplate the idea. “Relationship, relationship, relationship” I think summarises working with barristers and clerks. I had a head start, I feel at ease with clerks and barristers anywhere in the world. As I said it is just in my blood… it is what it is.
Australia is a relatively small market when compared to the rest of the world. Where do overseas markets sit on your priority list (if at all)– and what are your tips on growing globally out of Australia (if any)? What challenges have you come across (if any)?
London sits very high, next month in fact. Wish me luck…
COVID is certainly a barrier to visiting London and building those relationships but it is also an opportunity as the eBrief Technology is exactly what the market needs right now as hard copy briefs cannot be created or delivered very easily.
I have always seen Australia as the place to build your product. When you have everything working well then branch out to overseas markets, building on the learning from the Australian market.
Entrepreneurship can be incredibly rewarding – and challenging. Looking back, what do you believe is the most important skill or quality for a founder’s success? Are there any other qualities you’d encourage a founder to develop?
Plan and then be prepared at any moment to change the plan. As much as possible let go of preconceived ideas and allow new ideas to form.
In meetings I often watch words coming out of my mouth wondering where did that just come from. At these times there is a resonance, a feeling that is exactly what needs to happen. The feeling in the meeting shifts, there is alignment. It is probably the most rewarding part of the development process, the birthing of a new idea; the creative process in full flow.
You’re about to go back in time to give yourself one piece of advice. What do you say to your younger self and when?
Follow your inner calling. If you don’t know what your inner calling is, then spend some time with the question, ultimately it will probably be something to do with being of service for the greater good.
What are 3 things you will be focusing on this year?
Security, Security and Security.
…Ok and many new product enhancements and also did I mention London?