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The responsibility for boutiques to continually evolve

Holding a true client-centred and employee-centred approach to firm ownership requires a willingness to be adaptive and open to technological innovation, says this boutique firm director and partner. 

user iconJess Feyder 06 October 2022 Big Law
The responsibility for boutiques to continually evolve
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Host Jerome Doraisamy was joined on The Boutique Lawyer Show by Jacob Corbett, director at Bradley & Bray Lawyers.

Bradley & Bray was a traditional, regional law firm since its inception in 1976 up until 2019, the year after Mr Corbett acquired a 50 per cent ownership of the firm beside longstanding partner Mark Bray.

Mr Corbett expressed admiration for Mr Bray’s willingness to be adaptive and open to new approaches, noting it as one of the factors that allowed the firm to adapt to innovations so early and quickly. 


“We are the same firm, providing great value and great community aspect, but you deal with us in a completely different way,” said Mr Corbett.

The firm began its innovation by digitalising conveyancing in 2019. The firm saw huge rewards in terms of efficiencies and cost base, which led Mr Corbett to ask: “What else can we digitalise?

“We systemised and digitalised all of our internal processes, our cost agreements, our initial letters, everything that people hated doing.

“We partnered with a system that allows people to start their wills and estates applications online,” he said. 

“There’s stuff that we have to do that the clients don’t like doing and we don’t like doing,” said Mr Corbett; it’s beneficial for staff and clients to digitalise such processes — it saves the firm and client time and money.

“Your staff should be the centre point of your business; you owe it to them to keep in front of the game.”

A lot of firm owners think: “We’ve done a few digital shifts, and enough is enough,” said Mr Corbett, and that is fair, “not every innovation is a good innovation”.

“Lawyers will consistently, in my view, be a little bit behind the curve when it comes to tech,” he said.

“But we have a sense of responsibility to our clients to keep up to date and across emerging technologies.

“We want to be up to date with client expectations of exactly where we should be.

“There’s a broader social utility to being up to date with that; we also owe it to the next generation coming through to be open and receptive to these things.” 

“There will always be clients who love to do it the old way, and there will always be a place for that,” said Mr Corbett, but the willingness, and the motivation to adapt, is critical. 

“You don’t want to be that law firm that the client calls you up and goes, ‘Why are you sending me a cheque?”

Mr Corbett noted seeing less resistance to change: “The legal community really seems to be taking up this proactive approach. But pivoting, from a technological standpoint, can be much easier and quicker for boutique firms than big firms.”

He discussed how the legal industry could enhance the uptake of new technologies. “The more education we can be pumping out into the legal sector, the better,” he said.