‘New Law’, disruption and the future of legal services

By Siska Lund and Stanislav Roth

From automation to virtual legal support, the legal industry is changing, and changing fast. Advances in technology are fuelling democratisation of the legal industry, and have introduced innovative competition in the form of ‘New Law’ business models. ‘New Law’ business models are challenging traditional firms by offering clients attractive alternative ways to procure and receive legal services. Their arrival is a boon for clients, large and small, who can benefit from the wider choices available.

What is ‘New Law’?

The term ‘New Law’ is used to describe any model, process or tool that represents a significantly different approach to the delivery of legal services. Although ‘New Law’ takes on many different forms, it tends to share some common traits, such as:

  • eschewing the traditional “time billing” in favour of fixed pricing;
  • making it simpler for clients to procure legal services through clever use of technology;
  • providing flexible working environments to the lawyers (who frequently work from home or their clients’ office under the New Law models); and
  • focussing on giving clients fast service and simple plain English advice and documents.

A different kind of lawyer

‘New Law’ businesses call for a different kind of lawyer. In order to thrive in this space, lawyers have to become ‘legal innovators’. They need to be highly adaptable to a changing world, motivated to deliver legal services much more efficiently and cost-effectively than traditional law firms, and believe in access to legal service for all – especially SMEs and start-ups. Legal innovators are often experienced lawyers with experience working inside businesses as well as setting up and running their own businesses or ‘side projects’.

Expertise tailored to client needs

As a result of their diverse background, ‘New Law’ lawyers are particularly well suited to advising businesses on corporate structures, how to protect IP, employ staff, licence technology and raise capital. Well-developed advice in all of these areas is vital for any business to successfully scale and grow.

One of the main drawcards of ‘New Law’ businesses is that they are collaborative – they work alongside technologists, salespeople, marketers, accountants, investors and (wait for it), other lawyers. ‘New Law’ businesses are not afraid of competition – they embrace it because it drives innovation and client focus.

In this increasingly value-driven legal world, ‘New Law’ businesses are definitely changing the way businesses use, measure and buy legal services. A New Law approach just might be the more suitable alternative next time you are seeking a lawyer.

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