The New Legal Model

/ 04:51 PM/ Blog News/ 0 comments

In the past decade, the emergence of a new business model in the global legal services industry has presented a disruptive challenge to the traditional legal service model. This new model is called New Law.

The rise of New Law can be traced back to 2008. After the global financial crisis, many in-house legal departments of Wall Street big names in the United States abandoned the traditional model of hiring external lawyers, so as to keep costs within budgets, and changed to the New Law model in engaging external lawyers.

There is however no universal definition of New Law. According to Jordan Furlong (who is a legal market analysis consultant), “Any model, process, or tool that represents a significantly different approach to the creation or provision of legal services than what the legal profession traditionally has employed” can be considered New Law.

However, the best way to explain to legal service consumers what New Law is, is to compare it to the traditional model, which has the following major differences:-

  1. The New Law model emphasizes and gives lawyers flexibility and autonomy. Lawyers in the New Law model are not employed by any law firm but instead provide legal services as a self-employed contractor. Many of them are experts in certain practice areas, but they are tired of the rigid rules and long work hours of traditional, large-scale law firms. They wish to provide legal services in a more autonomous and flexible fashion. Therefore, lawyers under the New Law model can provide legal services for a particular job or project, or provide services at a certain period of time or work directly at the client’s company for a specified period of time. This is very different from the nine-to-five life of traditional law firms.
  2. Second, the New Law model adopts the so-called Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFA). Put simply, AFA is just the antonym of the traditional law firm’s time-based charging model. That is to say, AFA is a fixed fee model. In the legal profession of western economies, law firms especially the large firms generally charge based on the time lawyers spend, and this is so whether in contentious or commercial matters. This causes tremendous uncertainty to clients in budgeting legal costs. Therefore, clients, especially SMEs, find AFA extremely appealing.
  3. Third, the New Law model widely uses the so-called Legal Tech, which includes computer software, applications, data analysis, mobile devices, etc. Their use simplifies and automates client communications, schedules for lawyers, document and case management, online billing and invoicing, time tracking etc. The use of Legal Tech finally streamlines and simplifies workflow, reducing the time for lawyers to process cases and thus costs, so that both lawyers and clients benefit.
  4. Fourth, the New Law model separates the marketing function and the delivery of legal services. This means that the law firm itself is responsible for the marketing of legal services, while lawyers focus on providing professional legal services to clients. This allows lawyers to free up more time to do their professional work without having to be distracted from work outside the professional areas.
  5. Fifth, a lawyer under the New Law model does not necessarily work in his law firm but may work directly at the client’s office. This way, his role is like the client’s in-house lawyer. This novel work arrangement enhances the communication between the lawyer and the client and allows the lawyer to have a deeper understanding of the client’s business, organisation and personnel.

Because of these advantages, law firms operating under the New Law model have flourished in the past decade, and in some jurisdictions, they seem to be surpassing traditional law firms. So, in recent years, we have seen that the Big 4s are entering this profitable market.

But the advantages of the New Law model are precisely its shortcomings. Many of the so-called New Law firms are not managed, operated or owned by lawyers, but instead by professional managers, IT technicians or marketing professionals. They may not be able to fully understand the client’s legal needs, nor are they able to understand the substance of the legal services provided by professional lawyers. So they themselves can be seen as some sort of intermediaries for legal services. They solicit clients for lawyers and extract about 20-30% of the lawyers’ fees as commissions, but legal consumers may wonder why in seeking legal services they cannot communicate directly to professional lawyers but have to go through a lay go-between and to give him a handsome commission?

In view of this, many traditional law firms have also changed their business model to the New Law model to provide legal services directly to clients rather than through intermediaries.

SimplifyLaw is the commercial practice of a Hong Kong law firm operated under the New Law model.  We charge fixed fees and use legal technology. Please visit our website www.simplify-law.com to learn more.

新法律模式

 在過去十年,全球法律服務產業有一嶄新的商業營運模式的出現及冒起,直接對傳統的法律服務模式構成顛覆性的挑戰。這種模式稱為新法律模式 (NewLaw)。

新法律模式的興起可以追索到2008年,全球金融風暴後很多美國華爾街大行的公司法律部門為了節省開支及成本,放棄了傳統聘請外聘律師的模式,改以新法律模式與外聘律師合作。

但新法律模式並沒有一個劃一的定義。 但根據 Jordan Furlong (他是一位法律市場分析顧問)的理解,“ 任何模式、程序及工具,其使用於提供法律服務上,與法律專業傳統所應用截然不同的,均可被視為新法律模式。

然而,最有效令到法律服務使用者理解到何謂新法律模式,就是將其與傳統法律模式(Traditional Law) 比較。若張兩者加以比較 ,他們顯著的分別有以下數項:

  1. 新法律模式強調並給予律師靈活性及自主性。 新法律模式下的律師並不隸屬於任何律師行而是以個體戶或獨立營運者的方式提供法律服務。 他們很多是某一個法律領域的專家,但卻厭倦了傳統大型律所的僵硬規條和長時間工作,希望可以更自主及以更靈活的時間提供法律服務。所以新法律模式下的律師可以按某一件工作或者某一個項目提供法律服務,或在某一時間提供服務或在指定時間直接到客戶的公司工作。這和傳統律所的朝九晚五生活有很大分別。
  2. 第二、新法律模式是採用所謂另類收費安排(Alternative Fee Arrangements)的。所謂另類收費安排,就是與傳統律所的以時間計算收費的相反,亦即是說另類收費安排就是採取固定收費模式。在西方的法律行業,律師事務所尤其是大所一般計算費用的基礎,無論是在訴訟或者是其他商業案件,均是以律師所使用的時間為基礎。這對於客戶計算成本或預算上均出現很大的不確定性。所以另類收費安排對於客戶來說,尤其是中小企,十分具有吸引力。
  3. 第三、新法律模式廣泛使用所謂法律科技(Legal Tech),這些法律科技包括電腦軟件、應用程式、數據分析、流動裝置等,他們的使用簡化及自動化客戶聯繫,安排律師日程,文檔管理,案件管理,在線計費、開出發票,時間跟踪和日程管理,使得律師工作流程更順暢、快捷及直接。 這樣也可以減少律師處理案件的時間,從而減少律師費用,令到律師及客戶雙方均得益。
  4. 第四、新法律模式把法律服務的市場推廣及服務提供分開, 這亦即是說, 律師事務所本身負責法律服務的市場推廣,而律師則專注於提供專業法律服務給客戶。這樣律師則可以騰出更多時間,做其專業工作而不需要分心於專業領域之外的工作。
  5. 第五、在新法律模式下的律師,不一定在他的律師事務所工作,而可能是直接在客戶的辦公室就地工作。這樣,他們的角色就好像是客戶的內部律師了,但這種工作安排也增強了律師與客戶的溝通,及讓律師更深入了解客戶的業務、內部架構及人事組織等。

由於有這些優點,以新法律模式經營的律師事務所在過去十年獲得長足的發展,而在某些地區,他們實在有超越傳統律師行的勢頭, 所以在最近幾年,世界四大會計師事務所(Big Four) 也開始染指這個行業。

但新法律模式的優點也正正是她的缺點。這些以新法律模式營運的所謂律師事務所,很多根本不是由律師管理、營運及擁有。這些管理人很多是專業經理、科技人才或者市場推廣人才而並非律師。他們第一未必能完全了解客戶的法律須要,第二亦不了解由專業律師提供的專業法律服務內容。 所以他們本身可以被視為一種法律服務的中介。他們把客戶介紹給律師,而從中抽取一個(大約20-30%)作為佣金, 但法律使用者可能會問,為什麼尋求法律服務不能直接與專業律師恰談而要通過一個非專業的中介,並且需要給予他可觀的佣金?

有見及此,很多傳統的律師行因此亦將其營運模式,改為新法律模式,直接向客戶提供法律服務而並非經過中介 。

 約法是香港律師事務所以新法律模式經營的商業法律業務,我們提供固定收費並應用法律科技。請瀏覽我們的網頁 www.simplify-law.com 作進一步了解 。

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New legal model

 

In the past decade, the emergence of a new business model in the global legal services industry has presented a disruptive challenge to the traditional legal service model. This new model is called New Law.

 

The rise of New Law can be traced back to 2008. After the global financial crisis, many in-house legal departments of Wall Street big names in the United States abandoned the traditional model of hiring external lawyers, so as to keep costs within budgets, and changed to the New Law model in engaging external lawyers.

 

There is however no universal definition of New Law. According to Jordan Furlong (who is a legal market analysis consultant), “Any model, process, or tool that represents a significantly different approach to the creation or provision of legal services than what the legal profession traditionally has employed” can be considered New Law.

 

However, the best way to explain to legal service consumers what New Law is, is to compare it to the traditional model, which has the following major differences:-

 

  1. The New Law model emphasizes and gives lawyers flexibility and autonomy. Lawyers in the New Law model are not employed by any law firm but instead provide legal services as a self-employed contractor. Many of them are experts in certain practice areas, but they are tired of the rigid rules and long work hours of traditional, large-scale law firms. They wish to provide legal services in a more autonomous and flexible fashion. Therefore, lawyers under the New Law model can provide legal services for a particular job or project, or provide services at a certain period of time or work directly at the client’s company for a specified period of time. This is very different from the nine-to-five life of traditional law firms.

 

  1. Second, the New Law model adopts the so-called Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFA). Put simply, AFA is just the antonym of the traditional law firm’s time-based charging model. That is to say, AFA is a fixed fee model. In the legal profession of western economies, law firms especially the large firms generally charge based on the time lawyers spend, and this is so whether in contentious or commercial matters. This causes tremendous uncertainty to clients in budgeting legal costs. Therefore, clients, especially SMEs, find AFA extremely appealing.

 

  1. Third, the New Law model widely uses the so-called Legal Tech, which includes computer software, applications, data analysis, mobile devices, etc. Their use simplifies and automates client communications, schedules for lawyers, document and case management, online billing and invoicing, time tracking etc. The use of Legal Tech finally streamlines and simplifies workflow, reducing the time for lawyers to process cases and thus costs, so that both lawyers and clients benefit.

 

  1. Fourth, the New Law model separates the marketing function and the delivery of legal services. This means that the law firm itself is responsible for the marketing of legal services, while lawyers focus on providing professional legal services to clients. This allows lawyers to free up more time to do their professional work without having to be distracted from work outside the professional areas.

 

  1. Fifth, a lawyer under theNew Law model does not necessarily work in his law firm but may work directly at the client’s office. This way, his role is like the client’s in-house lawyer. This novel work arrangement enhances the communication between the lawyer and the client and allows the lawyer to have a deeper understanding of the client’s business, organisation and personnel.

 

Because of these advantages, law firms operating under the New Law model have flourished in the past decade, and in some jurisdictions, they seem to be surpassing traditional law firms. So, in recent years, we have seen that the Big 4s are entering this profitable market.

 

But the advantages of the New Law model are precisely its shortcomings. Many of the so-called New Law firms are not managed, operated or owned by lawyers, but instead by professional managers, IT technicians or marketing professionals. They may not be able to fully understand the client’s legal needs, nor are they able to understand the substance of the legal services provided by professional lawyers. So they themselves can be seen as some sort of intermediaries for legal services. They solicit clients for lawyers and extract about 20-30% of the lawyers’ fees as commissions, but legal consumers may wonder why in seeking legal services they cannot communicate directly to professional lawyers but have to go through a lay go-between and to give him a handsome commission?

 

In view of this, many traditional law firms have also changed their business model to the New Law model to provide legal services directly to clients rather than through intermediaries.

 

SimplifyLaw is the commercial practice of a Hong Kong law firm operated under the New Law model.  We charge fixed fees and use legal technology. Please visit our website www.simplify-law.com to learn more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share
Share this Post

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>
*
*