NewLaw firm model tackles mental health
A NewLaw firm operating on a franchise model has said that its focus on work-life balance over billable hours helps to combat mental health issues in its lawyers.
Following World Mental Health Day yesterday, the founder of Your Law Firm shared with Lawyers Weekly how the franchise law firm model is helping to address the “colder” nature of traditional firms.
Melbourne-based lawyer Meda Royall launched Your Law Firm last year with the goal of changing the way law is practised and how lawyers are seen by the public, by shifting the focus from billable hours and careerism to compassion, job satisfaction and work-life balance.
“Unlike the traditional law firms where the clock starts ticking the minute you walk through the door, Your Law Firm has done away with the billable hour, offering fixed fees, mobile lawyers who meet the client where they prefer and a focus on positive client-lawyer relationships,” Ms Royall said.
She added that she launched Your Law Firm after witnessing first-hand the downward spiral in professional ethics and practice in the legal profession.
“During my years working in traditional law firms, I witnessed the gravitation towards a colder, transactional practice of the law, where relationships, counsel and compassion have all but disappeared,” she said.
“In recent times I have not met a person (other than a lawyer) who does not refer to lawyers as ‘rip-offs’, or a lawyer who tells me that their clients are truly appreciative of them and their services … this was not always the case.
“Disruption is not always about driving professions to new areas … sometimes it’s about taking a few steps back.”
The franchise model allows dissatisfied lawyers the chance to have more independence and control over their work while being supported, according to Ms Royall.
“I see so many promising lawyers, particularly female lawyers, burnt out or bullied out of the profession due to long work hours that prohibit family life, and sexism which unfortunately is rife in the industry,” Ms Royall said.
“In establishing Your Law Firm, I have developed a business model which enables lawyers to enjoy true job satisfaction, the appreciation and the respect of their clients and that of their community.”
While some lawyers leave traditional firms and go into sole practice in a bid to achieve a better work-life balance, Ms Royall said that the risks, cost, administration and compliance can be overwhelming, and it can be a very lonely ordeal without support.
“Your Law Firm allows lawyers to set up their own practice with business, administrative, compliance, paralegal, billing, marketing and even psychological support, with positive psychology expert Dr Paula Robinson coaching on mental fitness and positive interaction with clients,” she said.