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Large sections of the economy have been forced shut by the pandemic, but research by a Sydney law firm shows a surprising uptick in the number of online businesses setting up shop.

Commercial law firm LegalVision found a 52 per cent increase in enquiries from people seeking legal help to set up online businesses in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the first. The firm mined almost 10,000 enquiries to its phone lines and website between January and June 2020 to conduct the research.

The data showed a 17 per cent increase in business structuring enquiries, including new business formation, partnership structuring and business owners protecting assets through trusts. The firm also saw a 27 per cent increase in regulatory and compliance enquiries as more businesses look to import more goods or obtain licenses to trade online. 

“Businesses are contacting us in the thousands every month to quickly get privacy policies, terms and conditions and shareholders agreements drafted by lawyers as they prepare to launch new businesses or move their existing business online,” said Lachlan McKnight, CEO of LegalVision.

McKnight said the results provided insights into how businesses were trying to adapt and survive amid COVID-19, but also highlighted the devastating impacts of lockdown, border shutdowns and the receding economy.

The firm saw a 29 per cent decrease in corporation immigration enquiries as fewer businesses sought to hire overseas talent due to border shutdowns. There was also a substantial decrease in enquiries about selling businesses, with McKnight citing a poor economic climate not conducive to selling a business right now.