NewLaw, particularly in Australasia, has quietly begun to call some shots, pushing old ways (and larger firms) aside, winning some important chunks of work and clients, and recruiting top people in the process. (Sean Larkan – Edge International)

I recently posted on nimbler firms chipping away at others’ brands. Well, it seems they have been at it again – baking some more of BigLaw’s cake and eating a few more slices along the way.

Following this theme, an Edge colleague (Jordan Furlong) and I recently published a short Inventory of NewLaw in Australia focusing on what some smaller and mid-tier firms have been up to. The definition we used for NewLaw was:

“Any strategy, structure, model, process or way of delivering legal services that represents a significantly different approach to the creation or provision of legal services than what the legal profession traditionally has employed”

This definition allowed us to encompass not just law firms, but also new legal talent combinations, legal service managers and legal technology that both changes how lawyers practice and places the power of legal service provision in clients’ hands. We decided not to include American legal documets and consumer law portals, innovative legal companies and technologies whose primary focus is the marketing or management of law practices or e–discovery providers or accountants

I have long been an admirer of the mid-tier in Australasia – about a decade ago people were about to write them off but they have bounced back and then some. This has translated for them too – many are earning the same and more than the top ten, and doing some really exciting and innovative things into the bargain which is going to set them up against all comers for the future.

As we mentioned in the article, there is a temptation, when thinking about concepts like “NewLaw,” to think solely in terms of firms with unique structures, or that use some version of outsourcing, or who have, for instance, moved away from time-based billing. We think it’s more a question of the unique ways in which they structure themselves and deliver their services.

The message we have taken from these developments:

  • the market has tired of the way traditional firms deliver service or even what they offer, and also that this is based on what the firms think not necessarily what users think and want;
  • it really and truly is coming close to what Giam Swiegers said recently when interviewed by Sky Business: the message for professional service firms is clear – ‘innovate or die’.
Sean Larkan – Edge International

[‘dang’ – not sure where I got this word from but it seemed right for this heading – it apparently originated in the Southern US states as an abbreviation for ‘damn’]