Tips & Tricks

Lawyer


VOCABULARY

be shot through with. phrase. If something is shot through with an element or feature, it contains a lot of that element or feature.

If you describe someone or something as muchmaligned, you mean that they are often criticized by people

As western markets reach their maturity, interest is set to shift to areas offering more potential. Fast developing economies of Asian and African countries are at the centre of ‘Shifting Market limit’

ARTICLE

The next top model: Law firm edition

The traditional law firm, shot through with various defects, is a poor fit for the new legal market and won’t survive competition from newer and better models for legal services. Smart people have asked: what exactly is going to replace your much-maligned traditional law firm?

It’s a good question, and many are pondering it. Managing partnersindustry consultants, and conference organizers have been kicking this one around for a few years now. The consensus answer, up to this point, has essentially been “something that’s not a law firm,” and there are plenty of candidates for consideration.

We’ve seen the emergence, over the past several years, of legal process outsourcerslegal technology platformsflex-time and project lawyer companies, and managed legal services providers, These and other entities have collectively been grouped  under banners like “NewLaw,” “alternative legal services providers,” and the latest term, “law companies.” Together, they already represent about a US$10 billion slice of the legal market.

Most of these businesses share several common features, including:

  • corporate structure and governance,
  • investments of external funding,
  • extensive use of process and technology,
  • reliance on people who aren’t lawyers,
  • focus on efficiency and cost control, and
  • ability to leverage knowledge and data.

But you could more easily describe all these entities simply by saying that “they’re not law firms.” Because the characteristics of law firms are well-known: Lawyer-owned and -operated, expensive, elite, inefficient, lawyer-centric, risk-averse, kind of pretentious, and a little out of touch. Defining your new legal business by distancing yourself from these attributes is a pretty good way to get clients’ attention in a shifting market.

So it’s fashionable, and maybe even reasonable, to assume that traditional law firms will largely be replaced by their opposites — the alternative legal business, the agile legal company, the AI-powered legal machine. I’m confident these businesses will secure a significant space for themselves in the new legal market, and I suppose it’s even possible that modern law companies will turn out to be the dominant species of legal services supplier in future.

But here’s another possibility. Maybe traditional law firms will be replaced not by law companies, but by law firms — radically different law firms, to be specific. Law firms that, while still lawyer-owned and -operated, are also:

  • efficient,
  • accessible,
  • progressive,
  • modernized,
  • collaborative, and
  • enthusiastically client-first.

These won’t be old law firms with a fresh coat of innovation paint. They will be systematically distinct from old law firms, based on a whole new model, right down to their DNA.

Maybe there’s a place in the market for law firms like this — a really big place, in fact.

VIDEO

 

Discuss in what ways do traditional law firms may distant themselves from clients?

 

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