find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
BigLaw firms must banish inertia

BigLaw firms must banish inertia

Tony Harrington, MinterEllison

Change is constant in the legal profession, and BigLaw firms must rid themselves of intertia to stay competitive, according to MinterEllison’s chief executive.

Speaking at the Janders Dean Legal Horizons Conference recently, Tony Harrington, chief executive of MinterEllison, said business models in every industry are being disrupted.

“People say everything’s so difficult; things are changing at such a pace. But this whole thing about change, it's not just today, it’s been going on forever,” Mr Harrington said.

He pointed to the invention of steam engines and motion pictures as things that fundamentally changed how we lived, and said that today’s digital disruption is no different.

As technology continues to change the way we do things, many believe that BigLaw is dead, but Mr Harrington isn’t of that opinion.

“I think the partnership model is a very powerful model,” he said.

“Any business owner would tell you, and in a public company particularly, that they would love to have all their key people as shareholders, with a mutuality of interest about the ultimate outcome of the business.”

However, Mr Harrington said there are three mains drivers of legal inertia that BigLaw firms need to shake off if they want to stay competitive in the future.

The first one is the notion of being product artisans.

“We’re not in a product business; we’re in a solution business,” he said.

“The product is great but if you listen to the clients, clients want solutions and they want you to have expertise, but you’ve got to put the law in the context of what the clients need.”

Mr Harrington pointed to Uber, Alibaba, Facebook and Airbnb as examples of companies where the service, not the product, is the focus.

“The world has changed; it’s about the solution and it’s not about the content as much as it used to be.”

Secondly, firms must stop entertaining the idea of partner silos.

“The benefit of being in a large firm is it’s not a franchise of a number of individual legal practices; it’s actually a partnership that’s there to collectively benefit from critical mass and the benefit of the expertise within it,” he said.

“Those two things have slowed down the ability of the legal profession to actually adapt, as the big four in the accounting profession have over the last 20 years.”

The third element holding BigLaw firms back is process overload.

“Firms have too many committees, and you’ve got all these people who are disputes lawyers, so they want to challenge each other to figure out what to do,” he said.

“I don’t mind a bit of employee input, but not when it becomes problematic. That whole issue needs to be freed up. These firms have got great people but you just need to take the process out.”

Mr Harrington emphasised the importance of banishing inertia, because “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less”.


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

BigLaw firms must banish inertia
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Jetski
Oct 23 2017
How to fail well
The legal profession is due for an attitude adjustment when it comes to perceived failures, accordin...
Consultation
Oct 23 2017
Lawyers slam rushed consultation for SA repeat offenders bill
The Law Society of South Australia has expressed concern for a proposal to roll out new laws amendin...
IBA
Oct 23 2017
The pursuit of happiness in the law
A panel of legal experts have explored how to define success in the legal profession, and how lawyer...
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 & ...