According to James Gonczi, lawyer within the growth and innovation team at LegalVision, NewLaw providers are gaining considerable ground in becoming the preferred choice for both legal professionals to join and clients to utilise.
Mr Gonczi has just authored a new report titled Transforming the Legal Landscape: The NewLaw Philosophy.
In his report, Mr Gonczi noted that the unique service proposition of NewLaw firms is seeing them gain ground on the BigLaw market.
Such advantages of NewLaw providers are labelled as their commitment to using technology to address legal issues, virtual or dispersed workplaces, flexible work arrangements for employees, alternative billing arrangements and flatter working structures that can often avoid the partnership structure.
“NewLaw is here,” Mr Gonczi said.
“Its influence is spreading and it is seeking to provide innovative solutions for clients.”
While Mr Gonczi said that BigLaw still holds the vast majority of legal work within Australia, the NewLaw model is presenting an increasingly attractive offering.
“The impact of service providers that adopt a NewLaw philosophy remains to be seen,” Mr Gonczi said.
“In 2013, Eric Chin noted that if Axiom Law continued its rate of growth, it would be the largest legal services firm by revenue within five years. Three years later, although still making huge strides, Axiom’s rate of growth has slowed.
“Traditional law firms still dominate the business law market. However, there are signs that the NewLaw philosophy is making inroads. Perhaps the most significant of which is that a number of traditional firms have begun to expand into the NewLaw universe. Gilbert + Tobin’s investment in LegalVision is just one example of this trend.”
Also commenting throughout the report was Sam Nickless, COO at Gilbert + Tobin. Mr Nickless said while NewLaw is often seen as a competitor to the BigLaw arena, it can also be seen as an opportunity for firms to innovate.
“The legal industry is currently undergoing a period of significant change. In particular, new technology is changing the way legal services can be delivered,” he said.
“We are seeing the emergence of a broad range of NewLaw businesses providing either access to legal services or technology to aid in its delivery. This offers clients a broader range of choice for meeting their legal services needs.
“For existing law firms, there are a new set of competitors on the horizon as well as potential opportunities for innovation, or for partnership and collaboration, with these new providers.
“Gilbert + Tobin is a ‘BigLaw’ firm with a young history. We were a NewLaw firm ourselves 28 years ago, and we are excited to see the entrepreneurial energy occurring in the Australian legal services market today.”
Looking ahead, Mr Gonczi said that over the coming decades the legal profession will need to continue to adapt in order to meet the changing needs of the people and businesses who interact with the law.
“This report sets forth some of the ways in which NewLaw can be useful to those with legal needs. However, this is just one view,” he said.
“The concept of NewLaw is not fixed, and the businesses that adopt the title are varied in approach and outlook. What unites businesses with a NewLaw philosophy is a desire to innovate and change in order to meet the needs of clients in ways that work for them.
“If lawyers embrace innovative new technologies and adopt a spirit of collaboration, we envision a legal industry that is both highly specialised and more in tune with, and more useful to, its clients.”
Emma Ryan is the deputy head of editorial at Momentum Media and editor of its legal publication, Lawyers Weekly.
She graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism).