I am excited about the “new law” models and what they may mean to many of you. By new law I mean law practices without walls — virtual, if you will — that present new possibilities for experienced lawyers who cannot or do not choose to commit to full-time traditional practices but want to stretch their lawyer brains and continue in the profession. These models advertise high quality legal services at cost effective rates made possible by lowering overhead costs, eliminating traditional salary structures, forgoing benefits that many attorneys do not need, and offering creative fee arrangements that clients are demanding and flexibility for the lawyers. They market their services as free from the pyramids and competitive environments that plague traditional law firms and consider themselves the law firm models of the future.
These new models, that are represented by groups like NewLAWu.s., Potomac Law Group, Axiom, Fisherbroyles VLP Law LLP and Rimon in the US and Keystone in the UK, are examples of innovative thinking by founders who see real flaws in the traditional system of delivery of legal services. Check out their websites and try them on for size.
My attention to these new models has been piqued lately. Last week, I attended a presentation by NewLAWu.s. at Columbia University Law in NYC, and, later that evening, I facilitated a discussion about the future of law practice at a dinner hosted by NewLAWu.s. I found the new law concepts both interesting and challenging. The flexibility and lower billable hour rates appeal to me, but I am a bit concerned about how the work comes in. What happens if the “key man,” who has founded the group and represents the rainmaker, gets hit by a bus? Really, think about it. It seems to me that the challenge for developing work never changes. Even in the new law concept. The firm must be diversified enough to have a variety of rainmakers or there will be a serious drought. I also know that working virtually does not work for everyone. Even though these new models stress the team approach, I believe that remains to be seen.
I had the rare opportunity to sit down and discuss several of these models early on when they were being developed. The founders recognized what they thought was a good fit for the goals of the Best Friends at the Bar program, and they sought out my reactions to their new models. As a result, I have been in the cat bird’s seat to see some of the models develop. So far, I am encouraged by what I see.
So, put on your innovator’s hat and keep an open mind. Be prepared to adjust your thinking and be open to new possibilities. Also keep your critical-thinking hat handy. There are still a lot of wrinkles that need to be worked out of the new models. But they are worthy of your consideration and present new possibilities about what it means to be “successful” as a lawyer. The Personal Definitions of Success that I stress in the Best Friends at the Bar program are very important to that discussion.
Two of the new law models, NewLAWu.s. and Potomac Law Group are sponsors for my Book Launch Event later this month. They join a group of impressive traditional law firm sponsors in their enthusiasm for Best Friends at the Bar. Proof positive that there is more than enough room for everyone!