Innovation is the key to building a better law firm. Lawyers who care about their clientele are leading the profession. People typically avoid lawyers because of their fees. They never know how much it will cost, the benefits outweigh the cost, or the cost exceeds the value of the process.
Lawyers on average charge $267, depending on city, area of law, and how much experience the lawyer has. When collection is factored in, they actually earn $184 according to Legal Trends Report 2018. Intellectual property and business lawyers often charge the highest hourly rate. Personal injury and criminal lawyers are usually on the lower scale, but personal injury also charges a contingency fee.
Innovation Around the World
There has been foresight in the legal field, and innovation has been encouraged. It just seems that now, with more people demanding strong services for a reasonable price, the innovative firms are leaving the old standards behind.
Lawyer Julia Salasky of London, UK created CrowdJustice in her kitchen in 2014. She combined crowdfunding with the legal system to help those who can’t afford legal fees find justice.
Even earlier, in 2007, Jonathan Brayne, founder and chairman, Allen & Overy © chaired the firm’s first innovation panel. Now, he chairs Fuse, the firm’s legal tech hub. Allen & Overy has won Europe’s most innovative law firm award six times.
In Spain, Jorge Badía, managing partner, Cuatrecasas, has led the firm to recognize young lawyers, and they have built a plain language reputation that increased business 25 percent. The youth has also introduced digitized systems and has developed their own case management software. Under Badia, the firm has a culture of respect and gender equality.
British software firm, Tikit provides seamless technology for law firms. Developed specifically for lawyers, the award winning software allows them to work and collaborate from anywhere in the world. This technology is also available in Australasia and North America. British law firm CMS, who installed Tikit in 2016 describes it as a leap into the future.
Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s Innovation of the Year for 2018 prize went to ATB Financial this fall. ATB’s Law Department reduced processes, such as preparing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), from several days to 30 seconds. Their template, which the customer can complete and print, doesn’t need to be seen by a lawyer. This not only provides savings for their clientele, it frees up their legal staff to work on more strategic initiatives.
The Canadian Bar Association issued a paper examining various innovations in many Canadian law firms. The Legal Futures Initiative Report sites innovative ideas for service. This includes everything from freelance lawyers to automated document providers, and from fixed fee arrangements to cooperative legal services.
Working from Home Works
ClearWay Law has virtual offices in Toronto Ontario. This provides staff with a better chance at work-life balance. It also reduces the cost, time, and stress of commuting. The lawyer is safe at home, and there’s no impact on the roadways or the environment.
Recent studies have shown that lawyers are susceptible to mental illness and alcoholism. A calmer home life can reduce the stressors that cause these maladies. More time with their children is beneficial as well – for both parent and child.
In addition, utilizing support staff who work remotely is a sizeable money and time saver. These workers provide the services that lawyers aren’t necessarily good at for a fraction of the cost. These include:
- Processing client payments
- Preparing and sending invoices
- Networking to meet new referrals
- Updating the website
Benefits for the Client
These savings can be passed on to the client, who is often more comfortable in a home office setting anyway. People only need lawyers a few times in their lives, and aren’t familiar with law firms. They can also be nervous about finding and parking near a big-city office.
The reduction in costs provided by virtual law firms allows them to offer flat fee services. The law firms clientele will know ahead of time what their costs will be. If they cannot afford these services, they can choose to be coached instead. This is an attractive option for those wishing to represent themselves, and they generally enjoy a better outcome.
Consumers are now able to make a choice they can afford. There are forward-thinking law firms that have the client’s interests at heart and are willing to help people through their legal challenges.