Lexpert Magazine

January 2019

Lexpert magazine features articles and columns on developments in legal practice management, deals and lawsuits of interest in Canada, the law and business issues of interest to legal professionals and businesses that purchase legal services.

Issue link: http://digital.carswellmedia.com/i/1077525

Contents of this Issue


Page 21 of 21

COLUMNS CHANGE AGENT ere are no "alternative" legal service providers anymore. is is because lawyers and other profes- sionals who provide legal services can be found outside the tradi- tional partnership law firm pur- view. ey reside in corporate- structured law firms, professional services firms, paraprofessional organizations, legal outsourcing operations, legal tech, legal con- sulting, and various entities that dub themselves NewLaw. But NewLaw isn't new. US- based Integreon, Inc. was found- ed in 1998, Axiom in 2000, and in Canada, Cognition LLP (now Caravel Law) and Delegatus Ser- vices Juridiques Inc. began in 2005. ere are also legal offer- ings from the Big Four account- ing firms, which predate all. My own legal experience began with Donahue LLP, which operated from 1997 to 2003 within Ernst & Young (EY) as Canada's first and so far only Big Four multidisciplinary law firm. Many in- dependent legal service enterprises have sprouted since and con- tinue to proliferate in the global marketplace. So, the acronym ALSP may safely be jettisoned from the legal lexicon for two main reasons: it's more than 20 years out of date, and those who hire legal service providers are increasingly less concerned about a BigLaw or NewLaw distinction, especially when many legal services have become commoditized. How many traditional law firms claim to do complex work, yet handle rote tasks? Rote work may help junior lawyers to learn, however many clients are refusing to pay for it. Other than for complex matters requiring numerous senior lawyers backed by experienced support teams, clients oen don't care who handles their legal work as long as it's done on time and on budget, within a collaborative framework, and supported by clearly scoped plans and communications to manage expectations and deliver with- out surprises. at's why there is abundant room in the legal market for BigLaw and NewLaw to coexist, complement and collabor- ate with each other. It's also why legal market positioning and brand definition are more vital than ever to enable identification of who does what, especially when legal service provider distinc- tions become blurred. Since lawyers tend to be risk-averse, though, it's not surpris- ing that the legal industry has been evolving at a snail's pace. However, with Google launching in the same year as Integreon, access to digital information changed everything. As a result, cli- ents who could do their own research but needed help executing work, and lawyers who bridled at traditional firm structures and methods have been instrumental in NewLaw start-ups and push- ing change within BigLaw. NewLaw and BigLaw can learn from each other. By nature, NewLaw provides a select suite of tightly scoped services that are executed by specially hired talent oen aided by technology. A hey percentage of revenues are reinvested in the business while operations run lean and pivot easily. BigLaw has the advantages of breadth of expertise and talent, along with infrastructure and financial means. e problem for many traditional law firms is that their pyramid structure is chal- lenging to remodel, and to effect change many are trying to fix their plane while flying it. Some firms are creating streamlined, less expensive versions of themselves as well as operational off- shoots, and on-shoring or off-shoring to lower costs in order to protect client relationships and revenues. Meanwhile, their competition may spin off non-core practices to operate as stan- dalones. ese firms can then restructure to focus on distinct services that cast them as unique while affording agility to scale if and when needed. Regardless of strategy and tactics, collaboration between BigNew and NewLaw is a critical factor in securing and retain- ing client work. Collaboration is successful as long as relation- ships remain respectful and one doesn't hold dominion over the other, which they don't from the client perspective. We are all legal services providers now. At a time when the global legal services industry has never been more challenging is when an evolving "new normal" means disruption and innova- tion become by-products of change. Providing responsive, solution-oriented, client-first legal servi- ces require continual transformation to meet the market's ever- changing demands, while retaining distinctiveness and setting divisiveness aside. "There is room in the legal market for BigLaw and NewLaw to coexist, complement and collaborate with each other. Legal market positioning and brand definition are also more vital than ever." By Heather Suttie LEGAL MARKETING CONSULTANT Global legal services demand continuous transformation and collaboration, not divisiveness No 'alternatives' anymore Heather Suttie is a change agent by nature, and a legal marketing and business development consultant by profession. She works with legal service providers ranging from global to solo and Big Law to New Law. Reach her at 416-964-9607 or www.heathersuttie.ca.

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