Smart law firms have created the future – today

Katherine opens ‘Smart law firms have created the future – today’ with this observation, ‘I find law firms fascinating and I love helping them develop and grow.  That’s one of the reasons I established Free Range Lawyers.  As I’ve engaged with firms across Australia, the UK, Canada and New Zealand, I’ve learned more about what these really progressive organisations have in common.  Here are the five key things that these ‘firms of the future’ are doing today.’


Five things law firms of the future are doing today

“Tomorrow never comes” and neither does the “law firm of the future”.

So smart law firms have created the future….today.  Here’s how.

1. They design their services intentionally

Smart law firms realise that it’s not enough to let their services evolve.  They need to be created. New firms are starting with a blank sheet of paper and asking ‘what if?’.  Established firms are re-examining the way they do things. Using service design methodologies, notably elements of Design Thinking, these firms have reimagined the services they deliver through the lens of customer experience and delivery efficiency.  Cue whiteboards, post-it notes, coffee and chocolate.

2. They package-up their services

The human brain finds it easier to understand something that is tangible than intangible.  Smart firms realise this. In defining what they deliver, they open-up the ‘black box’ of legal services and help clients to buy.  The ‘how?’ has become as important as the ‘what?’. Clear timescales, pricing and branding all play their part in making services tangible and easy to understand.  And before you ask: no, this doesn’t just apply to ‘low grade’ work……

3. They scale up and down

Scale doesn’t mean size.  And size doesn’t mean quality.  Smart firms realise this and operate a ‘core plus’ resourcing model that combines permanent employees with a group of trusted freelancers.  They turn the tap on and off according to activity levels and reap the financial and agility rewards that brings. They do this, not only to add resource but also specialist skills where they’re needed, turning to organisations such as Free Range Lawyers to scale-up in a savvy way.

4. They automate documents

Smart firms take things one step at a time.  They don’t automate dreadful processes and they don’t try ‘to do AI’ while still manually amending standard documents.  Document automation is a foundational requirement for the smart law firm. It increases accuracy, reduces risks, lowers costs and frees-up lawyer time for service delivery.  Of course, the really smart firms use automation platforms + flexible resource to automate documents because they know that focused freelancer time gets it done, rather than remaining an item of guilt on a busy lawyer’s ‘to do’ list.

5. They don’t charge for their time

Smart firms don’t charge for their time because they don’t sell their time.  They sell solutions. They sell hassle removed. They sell risks lowered or mitigated.  They sell business growth. They sell peace of mind. They sell a myriad of things….but they don’t sell time.  And because they don’t sell time, they don’t charge for it. They charge for results. What’s more, they understand that in this automated, designed, packaged, scalable world of legal services, selling time is an idea that’s reaching its expiry date.

Doing the simple stuff well is where it’s at.  Smart law firms – big, small, solo and mid – know this.  I just hope they’ll forgive me for sharing their secrets.


Smart law firms have created the future….today was first published as ‘Tomorrow never comes and neither does the law firm of the future’ on Katherine’s Free Ranger Lawyers blog in June 2019.

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