New firm launches to combat ‘broken’ traditional model

By Jerome Doraisamy|31 March 2020

A new player has emerged in Western Australia with a stated intention to “make the legal profession a better place” by pushing back against “fundamentally broken” pricing structures.

Chris Bates and Rebecca Johnston have combined to launch Mason Ledger, a 23 person-strong firm boasting five partners and 14 lawyers joining as special counsel, senior associates and associates.

The launch of this new firm, the pair said, is “one of the most exciting and disruptive events the Australian legal profession has seen for over a decade”.

Mason Ledger is set to be a full-service offering firm with specialisations in aviation, banking and finance, corporate/M&A, employment and workplace relations, energy and resources, litigation and dispute resolution, project and infrastructure, recruitment and on-demand lawyers, tax and tax disputes, and transport and logistics.

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In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, Mr Bates and Ms Johnston – who will serve as executive chairman and managing partner respectively – said that clients have told them that they “expect more from their lawyers and want certainty around cost, and we are listening”.

“We believe the old ‘cost plus’ pricing model used by traditional national and international law firms is fundamentally broken. In this modern business world, it makes no sense to price legal services based on the input costs of running law firms – because this has no connection whatsoever with the value of the advice/outcome received by clients,” they said.

In fighting against what they deem to be broken ways of practising law, the pair outlined purpose, culture and values as being the heart of everything the firm will do – “both internally and in advising our clients”.

“There remains a significant under-representation of female partners across firms of all sizes/tiers and this is an issue we will address head-on, in practising what we preach. We will work hard to support and retain both men and women with families. We have started as we intend to continue with a culture of meritocracy and equality, with 60 per cent of our founding partners being senior women – including our managing partner – several of which have young families which we think is awesome,” they said.

“One of our male associates has a young family and decided to commence working four days per week so he can spend more time with his wife and kids, and that’s totally fine with us. In fact, we think it should be celebrated!”

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The firm’s structure, people, technology and innovation strategy have all been specifically designed to deliver top-tier legal services “at a significantly better price point than traditional law firms”, the pair espoused.

“We combine the best of traditional law (offering hourly rates that are much lower than traditional law firms), value-based pricing, and a fully integrated recruitment and on-demand lawyers solution – ensuring we add maximum value to our clients, every time,” they said.

“Strong relationships with clients and friends in business are at the core of everything we do, and we never take our clients for granted. We continually review our service offering based on feedback from our clients, and are able to rapidly adapt our service offering to add more value to our clients.”

When asked if Mason Ledger will expand into other cities across Australia, the paid said that they are “very driven people and so nothing is ever out of the question”.

“We approach everything with a growth mindset where we believe absolutely everything is possible. We will initially be focused on delivering more value to clients throughout the Western Australian business community, and then who knows what the future may hold. Our model has been specifically designed to think big, prototype small, and scale fast – in Perth and possibly beyond,” the pair said.

“We are working hard to shake things up, have a positive impact on the legal profession and leave the legal industry just slightly better than we found it.

“We will be working hard to unite the partnership and entire team around one clear purpose – ‘to make the legal profession a better place’.

“We’re here to shake things up in a positive way, promote equality, support senior women/lawyers with families, empower our people, and treat our clients with empathy, kindness and respect.”

Prior to establishing Mason Ledger, Mr Bates was a law firm management consultant advising partnerships and boards on legal market trends, growth opportunities, pricing methodologies, client engagement strategies, legal technology, recruitment and retention, whilst Ms Johnston was the managing director and general counsel of KBE Legal Hub and managing partner of HodgkinsonJohnston.

New firm launches to combat ‘broken’ traditional model
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