find the latest legal job
Banking Associate - 1-6PQE - Allen & Overy
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: United Kingdom
· Banking Associate - 1-6 PQE - Allen & Overy
View details
Academic Dean and Head of School of the TC Beirne School of Law
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· An outstanding opportunity · Provide educational, research and organisational leadership
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Arncliffe NSW 2205
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Sydney NSW 2000
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Verein model simply ‘network by any other name’

Verein model simply ‘network by any other name’

Global network

The former head of Lex Mundi has defended the legal network as a model of global expansion against criticisms from the chair of swiss verein Dentons.

Stephen McGarry, founder of Lex Mundi and World Services Group, and president of the Association of International Law Firm Networks, argued for the value of legal networks in response to a recent article by Dentons chair Joe Andrews discussing the launch of Denton’s new free online referral system Nextlaw.

In the article, Mr Andrews called the traditional referral network model “inherently structurally flawed.”

Describing networks as “pay-to-play”, he suggested clients were not being given access to the highest-quality firms – merely those willing to pay – and argued that such networks foster geographic exclusivity.

“Let’s see how long the status quo lasts without their expensive fees and territorial exclusivity,” Mr Andrews said.

“Let them try to imitate Nextlaw for what is in the clients’ best interest.”

Mr Andrews took the stance that existing law firm networks are “simply not in the best interests of the client", positioning the free Nextlaw system as a more flexible, no-charge option.

He said: "If they were so confident in their pay-to-play model, why wouldn’t they simply allow all of their members to belong to multiple referral networks?”

In responding to these comments, Mr McGarry argued that firm verein structures – which Dentons operates under – are essentially the same as “a territorially exclusive pay-to-play network with much more expensive fees".

“Both share that member firms are professionally and fiscally independent,” he said.

“They share no vicarious liabilities. Each organisation has a board composed of member representatives.”

Moreover, he pointed to the fact that Dentons’ member firms pay fees to use the Dentons’ brand and marketing services.

“There is nothing wrong with this,” he said. “However, it should not be conveniently passed over when critiquing others for being pay-to-play.”

Mr McGarry also disputed the notion that networks require exclusive referral relationships, arguing that verein firms are much more likely to put preference on their own offices than members of a network.

In praise of the network model, he pointed to its success across the accountancy profession, including the big four.

In his view, strong relationships leading to collaboration are the foundation of a successful network.

“Andrew seems to view networks as second-class because he believes integration is necessary to provide high-quality services,” he said.

“Business and system integration in a network is very different from collaborative integration through a relationship built on trust […] Networks are clearly first-class, having developed collaborative trust over many decades.”

Globally, he suggested that networks allow local firms to have an international reach and access top-quality legal talent.

“Network members are professional firms, many of whom have been providing services for many generations,” he said.

“Long-standing personal relationships with clients and among network members assure that referrals are made to the appropriate firms. This is the definition of a professional.”

Overall, he questioned the potential for Nextlaw to challenge the more established networks.

“In my opinion, it is doubtful that a corporately administered free online network, like Nextlaw, can entice leading firms to subscribe and then deliver the same level of quality global administrative support that are provided by traditional networks, including the vereins,” he said.

Mr McGarry is the second legal network head to take on Mr Andrews in recent weeks, after InterLaw chairman Michael Siebold argued the network model was overtaking the corporate firm on a global scale.

 

Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

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

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Verein model simply ‘network by any other name’
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Gavel, legal book, criminal lawyers
Jan 19 2018
Three criminal lawyers named NSW magistrates
The NSW Attorney-General has announced the appointment of three new local court magistrates. ...
Warning
Jan 18 2018
Lawyer highlights ‘unintended consequences’ on SSM estate planning
A succession lawyer has warned that the right for same-sex couples to legally marry could have a sub...
drug rehabilitation services available in rural and remote communities
Jan 18 2018
ALS survey shines spotlight on insufficient rehabilitation services
A new survey posted by the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) has revealed an alarming insight into ...
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 & ...