17 Jun Entrepreneurship in Law: Delivering Better Services Faster and Cheaper
“To survive (lawyers) will have to plot the obsolescence of what produces their livelihood” — Theodore Levitt, Marketing Myopia.
The legal world of today is changing, and firms like éClat Law are at the forefront of an exciting – and client-focused – evolution. The introduction of numerous technological advances, such as the computer have transformed the workplace. The use of email in the Court System, for instance, has created a medium whereby legal documents can be sent and received more quickly and at relatively little or no expense. Amidst this progressive development, today’s lawyers face various challenges.
One of these is the ability to provide legal services at a diminished price which constitutes the crux of the “more for less challenge”. This particular issue is relevant in the wake of cuts in legal aid which threaten access to justice. Conversely, consumers who are able to afford to pay for legal services are usually submitted to the hourly-billing option. The latter has been the prominent charging practice for the past 50 years and has been criticized over the years for its negative impact on both lawyers and clients. This culture of “fat cats” is perpetuated in the minds of law graduates who enter the market not only ill-prepared but full of hopes and illusions about easy accumulation of wealth.
Law firms are under pressure to provide alternative billing options so as to retain their existing clientele, attract potential clients and, in some cases, to simply stay afloat. Surveys amongst law firms in the US have shown that there is an increasing belief that non-hourly billing will be become a permanent trend in the future. There are indeed a range of Alternative Fee Arrangements that firms are under pressure to consider. However, pricing differently with the same revenue expectations is not the answer. Clients today are far from the vulnerable Charles Dickens’ characters at the mercy of crafty attorneys. They are in a position of power and are now able to lead the bargain.
The emergence of Alternative Business Structures (ABSs) is a fine example of this decomposition of traditional practices. However, lawyers have been quick to point out the various issues surrounding ABSs such as conflicts of interests and the risk to confidentiality and quality in legal work. Non-lawyer providers will be concerned about maintaining good quality control systems in place so as to engender trust and preserve their brand name and reputation. Moreover, while lawyers are traditionally not trained in management, it would be helpful to have more aspiring lawyers embark upon subjects such as business and accounting, as is the case at Harvard University. This would improve in terms of training lawyers to focus on business outcomes instead of just legal ones. There is indeed a gradual convergence between business and law which leads to the concept of Entrepreneurship in law. With technology advancement and innovative working techniques, lawyers will become increasingly focused on management.
The éClat Law model recognizes that in order to provide the best, and most effective service, the firm needs to develop, employ and constantly evolve new ways of creatively engineering solutions. Internal governance is focused on reducing expenses, monitoring performance metrics and providing an effective cost-benefit analysis to legal tasks and decisions within the firm. Running a start-up firm nowadays is synonymous to setting up a techno-savvy business. And éClat Law embraces the new reality wherein lawyers are not only legal experts but also acquire knowledge of sales, financing, marketing and management. As legal entrepreneurs the firm’s lawyers are challenged to think via a dual mindset of business and law so as to take risks and make investments that deliver better services faster and cheaper.
éClat Law is pleased to feature this new blog from guest blogger Vani Munisami. Vani did her Bachelor of Laws at King’s College London and completed her Masters in International Law and Commercial Law at University College London. Admitted to the Bar of England and Wales, she has dabbled in various fields including Corporate, Employment and Arbitration. Her profound passion for Aviation and Space took her to McGill University where she is currently an LLM Candidate at the University’s Institute of Air and Space Law. Click here for more from Vani.