Law’s shift from practice to skill

During a recent visit to the National University of Singapore Law School (NUS), I asked a first-year student what being a lawyer meant to him. His response was thoughtful and prescient: “I regard law as a skill. I plan to leverage my legal training and meld it with my passion for business, technology, and policy. For me, law is not about practice.” Out of the mouths of babes!

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Strategies for uncertain times

With Strategies for uncertain timesHeather Suttie makes a positive contribution in the gloomy, global environment from which no legal services provider will be shielded.

 It’s said that wars are won by strategy and battles are won by tactics. If that’s the case, then uncertainty around upcoming international political events—Canada’s federal election, Brexit, the 2020 U.S. election and forecasts for a financially-soft 2020 worldwide—may be among the factors that spur discontented clients to force change upon traditional law firms or leave them high and dry.

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Leading thoughts curated by Stephen J. McGarry

Leading thoughts curated by Stephen J. McGarry brings Stephen’s 2019 Leaders in Legal Business to the attention of Dialogue subscribers. The 250 page flipbook is written by 40 leading authors under six main themes, making this a handy, up-to-date and accessible compendium.

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Stop trying to differentiate your firm

I published a shorter version of Stop trying to differentiate your firm in The Australian Financial Review on 3 May 2019 and later the full text as on my blog, Relationship Capital.

Editor: Joel provocative opening paragraph struck a nerve: “99% of Australia’s full-service law firms have a strategy based on seeking clear market differentiation. In my view, they’re largely wasting their time and money.” So it’s a pleasure to bring the full text to readers of Dialogue.

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Anna Hinder makes her debut with House Sitting or House Stealing

Anna Hinder makes her debut on Dialogue with House Sitting or House Stealing, a critical look at work quality before women go on parental leave from BigLaw firms and what happens when they return to work. Anna writes, “This blog came from taking a close look at the real reasons women don’t stay in the partner pipeline. I’m aware of one firm that pays attention to this and they are seeing results.” Read on…

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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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