In August 2022, Legal Templates was named one of the fastest growing companies in the United States on the Inc. 5000 list. This is an annual list of the top 5000 successful and thriving independent enterprises in the U.S. and is considered one of the most esteemed rankings.
Despite the pandemic’s negative impact on the economy, Legal Templates managed to achieve an 86% growth rate within the last 3 years—an impressive accomplishment that has earned the company the recognition it deserves in the document creation market.
Founder-CEO Reflects on the Company’s Success
While the team celebrates the amazing accomplishment, we sit down with Founder-CEO of Legal Templates, Howard Chai, to reflect on the incredible journey that started back in 2015.
This was Howard’s vision when he created Legal Templates 8 years ago. After realizing the public’s need for a modern, efficient, and economical legal solution, Howard decided to take matters into his own hands—all from a tiny start-up studio. In less than 10 years, Legal Templates has become a leader in the U.S. online contract creation market, and its team has grown exponentially, spreading across the globe.
Legal Templates: Then vs Now
An Entrepreneur in the Making
Howard’s deep interest in technology started at a young age when he grew up surrounded by innovations that changed people’s way of living. Music became portable with walkmans; computers were introduced into homes; Google and the Internet have connected and changed the world.
The evolution of technology had particularly impressed a teenage Howard after his family moved from Taiwan to the U.S.
“We kept in contact with our relatives, and that gave me opportunities to witness how technology provided solutions to existing issues. By the time I realized it, my way of getting in touch with relatives in Taiwan had gone from international phone calls with hideous delays and ridiculous prices to quick online messages sent for free.”
The appreciation Howard grew for the power of technology was not the only attribute he derived from the experience of moving to the U.S. Having to adapt to a substantially different environment as a child, Howard came to develop a unique outlook on cultures and flexibility, both of which he believes were essential in his success.
A Legal Solution
After graduating with a degree in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University, Howard spent several years at different software companies before he was ready to take his next step—start his own company. What he had yet to establish was a concrete idea.
As Howard prepared for entrepreneurship, a common headache for entrepreneurs soon surfaced: legal matters. That was when he realized that legal needs exist in almost every aspect of life—business, real estate, family matters—yet the traditional solution of hiring a lawyer could become costly in terms of money and time.
He knew that this was his issue to solve, and he was ready to use his computer science expertise to create a fast, easy, and affordable legal solution for everyone.
“When I started, I had no one as my advocate. So I decided to create something that can be everyone’s advocate.”
That’s when Legal Templates was born. At a minimal monthly subscription fee, users of Legal Templates can create and store their personalized contracts drafted by professional legal advisors. Valuable legal information that could only be retrieved from an attorney, including different state requirements and answers to frequently asked questions about the contracts, is also publicly available for everyone.
At its launch on January 1st, 2015, Legal Templates provided 42 templates, from personal documents such as wills to business contracts like non-disclosure agreements. The company quickly gained huge success. It was featured in various media outlets such as Yahoo Finance, Mercury News, and ForwardGeek, and its number of registered users skyrocketed to nearly 300,000 in less than 6 months. By 2017, merely 2 years after its inception, it broke even.
Pushing Through the Pandemic
Even though Legal Templates had faced multiple challenges over the years, nothing hit harder than the pandemic did in 2020. The recession caused by COVID-19 put the company in financial regression for the first time in 5 years since its inception.
But that wasn’t the only concern Howard had.
The team, despite working from home during lockdowns, delivered synergy to push through the financial regression. They eventually achieved an impressive turnaround in the company’s situation within a few months. The results from this experience gave Howard immense confidence in the remote work style. Now, the team consists of executives and staff from North America, Europe, and Asia.
When asked about the incredible workplace camaraderie the team shares, Howard attributed it to the team’s collective vision. Unlike other competitors who were hasty to develop add-on services, the team focused on two things—getting the forms right and making the users happy.
What the Future Holds
As a cancer survivor and a regular donor to various charity organizations such as Watsi and GiveDirectly, Howard regularly plans social responsibility initiatives for the company. The latest one occurred in June 2022, when the Legal Templates Taipei team volunteered at a local dog sanctuary.
“The volunteering initiative takes the idea of an advocate to another level–our products take on the role of our users’ advocate, while our team takes on the role of the society’s advocate, doing good and giving back one at a time. I’m very happy to learn about the overwhelmingly positive response to the initiative from the team.”
Howard believes that Legal Templates had achieved the vision he had when he first started the company: to become everyone’s legal advocate. Now, he’s ready to augment that vision further.