Remaking Law Firms
A new book, Remaking Law Firms, co-authored by Melbourne Law School Senior Fellow Dr George Beaton and Dr Imme Kaschner (JD 2013) is the world’s first comprehensive analysis of the challenges facing BigLaw firms.
By Dr George Beaton, Melbourne Law School Senior Fellow
Remaking Law Firms explains why most firms are not well equipped to know how to ‘remake’ their business models. The book is based on the researched conclusion that no law firm can assume its prosperity is assured and it shows law firms how to stay relevant to their clients and be financially rewarding for their partners.
The BigLaw model is increasingly unsuited to competing in an industry characterised by buyer power, cost pressures, increasing digitisation, and substitutes. BigLaw firms and competing NewLaw providers are compared in how they win legal work, how they produce work, and how they are led and governed.
Demands to ‘do more for less’, an ongoing shift of work from law firms to in-house legal departments, the rapidly growing role of digitisation, globalisation, a move away from artisanal, one-off practices to commoditised services, and possibly even large scale deregulation are pervasive trends shaping the future of the legal services industry.
I have captured these trends in my research, and projected how the shares of traditional BigLaw firms, remade firms, NewLaw firms, stand-alone automated legal services providers (e.g. artificial intelligence), and clients’ law departments will change in the next 10-plus years. The above chart for Australia (this has also be done for the US, Canada, Western Europe and the UK) shows the substantial decline in the share of traditional firms, as much as 50%. Whereas remade firms, NewLaw firms, stand-alone automated legal services providers and clients’ law departments all grow to varying degrees.
Remaking Law Firms draws on 40 interviews with clients, innovative law firm leaders, successful pioneers, and leading consultants and academics from the world’s five major common law jurisdictions. It is a current and comprehensive view of the future, taking the reader on a journey from the origins of today’s firms to a future scenario we have termed the ‘kaleidoscope’. In this future, the ways clients meet their needs, and the rules for success of firms, are very different from today.
‘Kaleidoscope’ was chosen to describe the future because it connotes constant and unexpected change, and an environment that requires firms to be nimble to thrive. The winners in the kaleidoscope will be those firms that are starting now to prepare in earnest.
This is not just another book on business strategy for law firms. Remaking Law Firms shows BigLaw firm leaders why they must start their remaking journey now, and describes how change can be made and the tools to use.
Remaking Law Firms is available now from the American Bar Association.