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New Law: What the heck is it and why should you care?

August 19, 2016

Unless you are a lawyer the term New Law is something you may have heard but could probably care less about because… it’s inside baseball without beer and hotdogs and starring lawyers and law firms. Wake you when it is over, right? Except, if you use any legal services for your business it does matter to your bottom line. Now I got ya’ a little, right?

 

The financial success of big law firms relies on pushing the billable hour ever higher ($895-$1495 on the coasts now), maximizing the PPP (profits per partner) and passing every possible cost they can  to you. They also assess “overhead” (staff, technology, client development and supplies) to their lawyers as part of the profitability analysis ($150,000-$300,00 per lawyer). 

 

But increasingly there are cracks in the “same old, same old.” Signs of change? Firms folding, legal service providers like Axiom gobbling market share, off-shoring contract work, non-lawyers owning shares of firms (UK), and partners shopping their books of business. There were flat or decreased profits last year at the largest firms (the so-called AM JUR 200), droves of lawyers fleeing the model altogether, alternative fee structures and new disruptive technologies emerging monthly. All of these things fall under the New Law umbrella.

 

When I left the Attorney General’s Office six years ago, I contemplated going back into a large firm again but didn’t because, frankly, I was going to have to undertake significant business development. The legal landscape was changing; staying nimble was going to be critical in the coming years. So over the last few years, I embraced New Law with evangelistic fervor, and now

 

Framework Legal looks like this:  build-to-suit use of collaborators; alternative and flexible fees; technology; and tightly managed overhead.

 

Let’s talk collaborators first. I am proud to have a relationship with very experienced practitioners who are in solo or small firms and offer different strengths in employment law, securities, litigation, real estate, construction, patent, trademark, and licensing. We often work together to tackle transactions or projects. I also have an amazing partner in Efficiently Yours, which brings business, technology and paralegal services to the game. This mix lets me staff up or down for mergers and acquisitions and broadens the depth of expertise I deliver to my clients. All the benefits of a law firm without the fixed costs.  

 

Alternative Fees. The billable hour isn’t the only way to structure legal fees. Framework Legal liberally uses flat fees, capped fees and project-based pricing. On the value front, the most efficient arrangement is typically our general counsel services which allow us to get to know your business for a flat monthly retainer which you use how you want to: for training, negotiations, documents or advice. Here is a video we just uploaded that helps explain the fees and their key differences.

 

 

Technology.  Framework embraces it.  Paper? Nope.  Cloud-based? Yep.  Work from anywhere including a client’s office? Absolutely.  Ability to easily share files with clients? Yes.  Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Trying it. Many of you will be receiving scheduling invitations over the next few months from a new team member. Her name is Amy Ingram, and she is my scheduling assistant. She’s a robot. Thanks to the suggestion of a client, I was on a beta wait list to try her out for a year. Last month I got off the wait list. She isn’t perfect but I’m helping her learn every day and for the cost of a few lunches a month, she will be taking some of the pressure off my real Efficiently Yours team… Chelsea Holmstead and Sara Thibault.

 

Keeping Overhead Low. See 1, 2 and 3 above. I also share a modest office in a business building close to my house with access to conference rooms, a receptionist, furniture, equipment, and other amenities. I’ve been there for six years and wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

What does New Law mean for clients? Lots.

More cost certainty.

More control.

More choices.

More value.

More capacity.

Less chance of churning (that is, overstaffing, overworking and having junior team members run up the bill).

Strategy on cases and matters

that put your needs at the top.

Period.

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