find the latest legal job
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Infrastructure Lawyer/SA
Category: Construction Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Global elite law firm · Dedicated Infrastructure team
View details
Property Lawyer
Category: Property Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· 12 Month Contract · Diverse Work
View details
In-House Legal Counsel (Mid to Senior)| Regulated Markets (Energy and Gas)
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Full PD on Request · Exciting High Impact Role
View details
Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law | Location: Eastern Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Boutique Firm · Great Reputation
View details
Lawyers warned to be the next entrepreneurs

Lawyers warned to be the next entrepreneurs

A MAJORITY of Australian firms ultimately take their lead from what other firms are doing, rather than what their clients would like them to do, according to a leading commentator on the legal…

A MAJORITY of Australian firms ultimately take their lead from what other firms are doing, rather than what their clients would like them to do, according to a leading commentator on the legal profession.

What other firms do is a “measuring yardstick” by which most firms judge what they should do next, solicitor, author and public speaker on the profession, Simon Tupman, told Lawyers Weekly this week.

As a result, clients are not receiving the best quality legal service and law firms are unable to identify themselves as different to their competitors, he argued.

“‘A firm down the road has gone and got itself some quality standards, therefore we might as well go and get them. Such-and-such firm is using a graphic designer for their ads, therefore we might as well do the same.’ Rather than breaking a new path, everyone is following everyone else,” Tupman said.

Tupman will be speaking next week at the Law Mastery Tele-Summit 2007 on ‘Why lawyers who start focusing on the business side of law will excel past their peers in the years ahead’.

The way firms bill clients is a major part of the problem, said Tupman, but also they are not innovative in what they call themselves, the way they deal with clients, and the way they are structured. Instead, he calls on all lawyers to be better entrepreneurs and consider how to better run their businesses, despite what everyone else is doing.

In the US, some firms are now overhauling the way legal firms are traditionally structured and are “completely reshaping their philosophy”, Tupman said. An example is the Summit Law Group, which has just celebrated its 10-year anniversary. The law firm claims to have “rejected the traditional law firm model” and “revolutionise the way legal services are provided to law firm customers”.

According to the firm’s own publicity: “Most law firms provide legal services in the same way that they did 25 years ago. Those firms focus on lawyers, not customers. Their practice model relies on large numbers of people billing large numbers of hours, often without regard for the value of the work to the customer. We reject that model”.

What the Summit Law Group did to their practice was quite “revolutionary”, according to Tupman. “They’ve abolished time sheets wherever they can; they’ve offered innovative pricing policies, including value adjustment policies. So, [they say] ‘here’s our proposed fee for the work — you’re free to adjust it up or down, depending on your level of satisfaction at the end’.”

But in Australia, most firms have been resistant to such change, according to Tupman, who recommends such changes in seminars for the profession. The reaction is usually less than positive, he said.

“Now, I take a suggestion like that and lawyers look at me in disbelief, as if thinking ‘these people are mad’. And I don’t think they are,” he said.

“My view is that the firms that are doing these sorts of things are in the minority, but I think the fact that some firms have gone down this path and they’ve had some success, should act as a great encouragement for many others to at least be open to the idea of making some alterations to the manner in which they practise.”

In an upcoming issue of Lawyers Weekly, clients will offer some insights into the types of innovation they would like to see from law firms, particularly when it comes to billing.

For many organisations looking for an appropriate firm to represent them, a firm’s brand is a shortcut to the sort of service that will be offered and what a client will be charged, said Bluescope Steel legal counsel, Marina Yastreboff.

But Yastreboff told Lawyers Weekly she would like to see in-house counsel more involved in the process of how their organisations are billed by law firms. Many corporations would like to see some innovation around how work is billed, she said.

According to Tupman, firms need to stop following the herd, but look at examples in good management from businesses.

“They need to be prepared to do something a little different that is refreshing to clients — instead of the same-old, same-old. If we look at well-run and established law firms, it’s very hard to distinguish one from the other.”

Queensland Law Society president Joe Pinder this week warned lawyers not to allow professional ethics to become a casualty of the increasing number of business considerations permeating their work.

“I think that there is pressure for the profession to perform as a business, so we really need to keep our eye on the ball about what we know the core values and obligations on us as a profession are.”

See Lawyers Weekly issue 332, out 6 April, for a report on billing and cost assessment.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Lawyers warned to be the next entrepreneurs
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Violence
Nov 17 2017
It's time for politicians to commit to eradicating domestic violence
The national shame of domestic violence cannot be left unaddressed, writes Christine Smyth. ...
Nov 16 2017
From lawyer in law firm to senior governance professional
Promoted by Governance Institute of Australia As a law graduate, Kate Griffiths never imagined...
marriage equality
Nov 16 2017
Legislation the next hurdle for marriage equality
Lawyers have underscored the importance of ensuring same-sex marriage legislation does not limit ant...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...