‘The traditional model does not focus on the client experience’

‘The traditional model does not focus on the client experience’

10 October 2021 By Jerome Doraisamy
Robert Nay

Subscription-based models that better support particular clienteles are increasingly essential as the legal profession enters the new normal, said one NewLaw practitioner.

In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, LegalVision senior lawyer Robert Nay (pictured) argued that from hourly rates to complicated legal jargon, legal services have to become more accessible to the broader market, particularly in light of how much the market has shifted since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Subscription-based models, he submitted, are “radically changing” the way businesses and non-for-profits receive legal advice.

LegalVision, for example, has a membership-only model, LVAccess, which is specifically designed for charities and NFPs and gives members unlimited 30-minute pro bono telephone consultations with the firm’s lawyers, as well as discounted membership pricing for legal assistance (beyond these consultations), free to download legal documents, and access to a cloud-based, legal project management portal.

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“From my discussions with a range of NFPs, I’ve come to understand that although secondments from top-tier firms are great for large NFPs, there are a limited number of secondments available and when a secondment ends, it leaves the NFPs’ in-house teams with holes to be filled,” Mr Nay recounted.

As such, Mr Nay said, “law firms need to create new and creative ways to better support clients (including NFPs) because the traditional model does not focus on the client experience. From hourly rates to complicated legal jargon, legal services should be more accessible to the broader market”.

“Law firms should be more open to adopting flexible pricing models to provide cost certainty for clients and embrace technology to boost efficiency and productivity. These benefits are not only crucial for law firms internally, but also, they can be passed on to their clients.”

Such approaches are especially pertinent to the not-for-profit sector right now, he identified, noting that they are “often cash-strapped” organisations and that the pandemic has only exacerbated this problem.

“NFPs have experienced reduced fundraising opportunities and donations, which inevitably means their legal budgets have been drastically reduced. During the economic recovery from COVID-19, businesses (and law firms) will be looking to cut non-essential spending, where possible,” he said.

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“Unfortunately, law firms may see pro bono assistance and donations as non-essential spending and ripe areas for cost savings.”

Law firms of all stripes, Mr Nay went on, must invest in developing new platforms, ideally from the ground up and involving all stakeholders across the business.

“Although expending time, energy, and resources presents some short-term pain, doing so offers significant medium to long-term gains,” he said.

“Many LegalVision clients are using the economic recovery as an opportunity to hit the reset button, to reassess how they do business and to address any obstacles in their processes. There is no reason why law firms shouldn’t be doing the same. NewLaw firms benefit from being more adaptable and tend to be able to try and test new processes more quickly and easily, with less internal red tape.”

Moreover, Mr Nay added, from a lawyer’s perspective, being able to demonstrate an understanding of a client’s commercial goals and how their business operates is key to building strong client relationships.

“These days, clients expect their lawyers to advise on both the black letter law and also provide commercially pragmatic advice,” he concluded.

“As a lawyer, it makes sense to work innovatively and with a receptive attitude towards change because this client-centric approach is the future of law.”

‘The traditional model does not focus on the client experience’
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