Remaking News of the Week: End of the BigLaw business model?

Remaking News of the Week: End of the BigLaw business model? features a reflection by Richard Tromans in Artificial Lawyer, his always-topical, on-the-money publication.

In his July 2 piece, “Is the end of the traditional large law firm model here?” Richard reports this was his main thought after speaking to the leaders of Freshfields Lab in Berlin’s ‘cool Factory innovation space.

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Future of profitability models and analysis for BigLaw firms

Tim Corcoran has penned “The Future of Profitability Models and Analysis for Law Firms, a telling chapter in a recent Ark Group publication.
A regular Dialogue contributor, Tim brings a strong business focus to his work and writing, so it should be little surprise that he begins, “A ruthless market will simply and increasingly ignore law firms whose leaders’ pursuit of outdated success metrics position them loudly and wildly out of sync with market demand.”

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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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Remaking News of the Week: BigLaw investing in their own NewLaw businesses

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Remaking News of the Week: BigLaw firms diverge over entering legal tech market

Today Remaking News of the Week features a piece on BigLaw firm differences over entering the legal tech market. I’d phrased issue more as a question of ‘Whether’ or ‘How’? Here are snippets with the link to the full piece at the end. In my opinion, every BigLaw firm needs to have a view on this issue. 

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Remaking News of the Week: BigLaw discounting

Today Remaking News of the Week: BigLaw discounting draws attention to a podcast that hasn’t – at least IMO – received the attention it should.

Question: If I’m right, why might this be so? Answer: The closed ranks and conscious denial of BigLaw partners and leaders the world over.

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Remaking News of the Week: Elevate’s James Odell shares his story

Remaking News of the Week: Elevate’s James Odell shares his story is a courageous disclosure about how he resolved the conflict between what he was doing during most of his waking hours and his fundamental values as a human being to break free.

James wrote The Pursuit of Happiness: Promise of the New Era on 5 May 2019 on the Elevate Services blog. I commend the three-minute read as a lesson for everyone, most particularly those in legal services where mental health is one of the largest challenges of our times.

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