Meet the young lawyer whose startup aims to straighten out legal hassles and more for entrepreneurs

By Anju Narayanan
November 08, 2022, Updated on : Sat Nov 19 2022 05:35:22 GMT+0000
Meet the young lawyer whose startup aims to straighten out legal hassles and more for entrepreneurs
Shivanjali Malik started Dastawezz in February 2021. In less than two years, she has amassed over 150 clients across seven countries.
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As a law student, when Shivanjali Malik interned with big lawyers and law firms, she felt a glaring gap in their services model. “I could see that most of the big firms were only servicing large corporates. India has a thriving startup ecosystem, every month there are lakhs of companies getting registered. Who would help them with all their documentation, registration, and other processes,” wondered Shivanjal, Founder of Dastawezz, a legal services startup based in Delhi.


According to her, entrepreneurs who are generally unable to afford corporate lawyers have to depend on traditional lawyers, who may or may not have the necessary experience to understand the startup world.


“After speaking to many founders, I realised that while they may have very good products or services to offer, they had no clue about legalities, compliance, or how to protect their own rights as founders,” Shivanjali tells HerStory, adding that this prompted her to start her legal services in a small way.


Shivanjali began her groundwork in November 2020. As she had just graduated from Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar, she was sceptical about whether she would be taken seriously enough, “In legal services, the older you are, the more seriously you are taken.”


She worked around this by collaborating with senior legal professionals, many from her own college.


“I started reaching out to my older contacts and explained to them what I wanted to do. That’s how I built a network of lawyers from different specialist areas, law firms, individual practitioners, etc.,” says Shivanjali.


When she started working, Shivanjali was keen on serving individuals than startups, thinking it was easier to translate individuals into clients than approach companies and convince them to come on board. “But the response I got was quite the opposite. I hardly got any individual clients, and instead, a lot of startups started approaching me and I was able to understand what they were seeking,” says Shivanjali.

Besides legal services, early-stage startups were also on the lookout for services related to chartered accountancy and company secretaryship. This led Shivanjali to look for professional chartered accountants and company secretaries who would, through Dastawezz, be able to advise her clientele.

In February 2021, with an established network of lawyers, CAs, and company secretaries, Shivanjali launched Dastawezz, meaning documents in Urdu. In the last year and a half, Dastawezz has managed to garner 150+ clients across various countries.

Attorneys in India

More than legal services

Shivanjali says nearly 90% of her clients are startups, but they also take up litigation cases. “We have about 200+ services, and we’ve served in about six to seven countries, apart from India,” she adds. When asked how she works around international law, she says her network of local lawyers comes in handy.”


“For instance, if an entrepreneur wants to incorporate his firm in the US, I have a network of lawyers there who can help. While the backend work is done by the India team, the physical filing of papers is done by the local lawyers there. We also have lawyers here in India who have a great experience with international matters,” she adds.


The solo entrepreneur’s company now employs nearly six full-time employees, and most of them are women. These employees work on the content and marketing side. Shivanjali also has a bunch of interns who work on the legal nitty-gritty.


Explaining how her startup works, she says a client’s first consultation call with Dastawezz is always free. “We take them through what can be done to solve their legal issues, and if they are comfortable moving forward, we prepare a scope of work for them and customise it to their service requirements. Only once the scope of work is approved from their side do they have to pay their first fee,” says Shivanjali. She maintains that since a large part of her clientele are entrepreneurs who are just starting up, she makes sure they work on very affordable price ranges.

According to Shivanjali, Dastawezz’s scope of work can be divided broadly into four-five verticals that are aimed at helping a startup see through its entire life cycle. “From incorporation to the time they have raised funds, be it Series A or Series B, we want to be their legal partner throughout,” she adds.

The verticals include 1) registration licensing (incorporating a company, LLP partnership, GMC registrations, ISO registrations or even MSME); 2) business agreements and contracts with all parties involved (co-founder agreements, vendor agreements, employment contracts, investor MoUs etc; 3) IP protection (copyrights, patents, and trademarks); 4) fundraising help (pitch decks, promotional agreements, converting term sheets into investor MoUs, valuation reports) and finally, 5) corporate taxation.


Shivanjali says Dastawezz has been lucky to work with startups across industries, “ranging from cryptocurrency and blockchain firms, to skincare and real-estate companies to think tanks.”


Next steps

Currently bootstrapped, Shivanjali says since the company is profitable, she isn’t looking for fundraising at the moment.


“In the future, I do plan to infuse technology to make this service more automated. While I believe that the whole process cannot be automated, since clients do like to talk to a human and figure out their legal processes, some parts of legal services can be automated and made more efficient.”


For someone who started out conducting her groundwork through legal sessions on the social audio app Clubhouse during the peak pandemic period, Shivanjali has come a long way with her startup Dastawezz. The enterprising young lawyer now has over 5,000 followers on LinkedIn where she regularly posts relevant legal content for knowledge and awareness.


“A lot of startup founders stumble across my LinkedIn posts and then reach out saying it was very informational. Being a founder myself, I am just trying to add value to a startup owner’s life through my work,” concludes Shivanjali.


Edited by Megha Reddy

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