Boutiques on the rise; law firms operating in Vietnam hit by work permit regulations

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Boutique law firms seize opportunity in changing market... Baker & McKenzie finds tough work permit rules in Vietnam... and why social media is becoming a factor in divorce settlements...

​Boutiques boom
A growing number of experienced law professionals are choosing to start a boutique firm, often having left a large law firm but with still a long way to go before retirement. Peter Keel, formerly of Clayton Utz, is co-founder of Ash Street – a law and consultancy firm that has grown in its first six months but has no ambition to compete with the big names. Keel tells The Australian that he wants to stay “small enough that we don’t lose collaboration". Keel says his firm’s cost base is much lower than the big firms with more affordable offices and no large marketing or compliance teams. He says that it’s not easy as a start-up in the law business but the disruption to the panel system for large corporates, resulting from global players entering the market and frequent changes to partners, has created an opportunity for small boutique firms.
Law firms operating in Vietnam hit by work permit regulations
Law firms in Vietnam who want to employ foreigners may fall foul of the recently changed law on work permits. The Ministry of Labor rules mean that non-Vietnamese workers must be highly qualified; having a university degree or similar higher education qualification and also have at least five years experience in their field. Law firm Baker & McKenzie found that a worker who had been with the firm for three years was not able to join its Hanoi practice due to being two years short of the requirements. Critics say the law is too complicated and unreasonable.

Social media status add extra layer to divorce settlements
As technology continues to shape our world there’s a new consideration for couples getting married; if it ends in divorce how will we manage our social media? There are two main issues; the intellectual property in the images and videos posted to social networks and the use of social media as a weapon after a break-up. In an interview with Radio Australia Heather McKinnon of Slater and Gordon says that what is created and shared on services such as Facebook and Twitter may help relationships develop in the beginning but can be used for unpleasant means if those relationships go sour. There is a growing use of pre-nuptial agreements and while social media is not necessarily incorporated into those contracts specifically, general clauses on communication confidentiality are.
  • Marcus McCarthy on 22/01/2015 1:19:12 PM

    Just so you know - the website will never give too much away for the reason stated above. There is a form on the website people can complete to get an Information Pack that gives much more specific information on the practice model for those interested in joining. Nexus also has a business manager, Jacqueline Keddie, whose job it is to field queries about our structure. In essence, Nexus is simply a law practice for independent contract lawyers who operate under the same practice management platform. The lawyers get to keep up to 75% of their fees generated. It is nothing more than a practice platform for connected sole practice and designed to be an good alternative to the big firms for senior specialist lawyers.
    Not difficult to understand really but sometimes hard to explain such a simple concept and people get carried away....we are on to the revision and thank you again for the very good (and totally correct) feedback

  • Donna on 22/01/2015 9:11:40 AM

    That's great to hear, thank you for letting me know. I look forward to learning more about Nexus post re-write!

  • Marcus McCarthy on 21/01/2015 8:25:34 PM

    It is difficult to give too much detail on a website for IP protection reasons but Nexus actually agrees with your statement and has initiated a review of the website to be a more direct explanation of the model. Appreciate the feedback Donna.

  • Donna on 21/01/2015 12:10:42 PM

    Models like Nexus are intriguing but is there a need for all the unwieldy marketing spiels about Nexus' "collegiate contracting network", or "dispersed law firm" business? I went on the site and there's just voluminous amounts of the same innovation speak. Instead of coining terms - Open Law practice system or giving spin about what it can provide - "facilitating efficient collaboration between specialist lawyers to deliver better outcomes for clients", why is there no real clear message on what this all really means and how it all actually works? It seems like a lot being said that actually says nothing at all in order to attract interest and drive queries through Nexus. It might actually generate more interest and queries if there was some simplicity about what this new wave new age model can actually offer.

  • Marcus McCarthy on 14/07/2014 1:10:13 PM

    It is interesting the trends toward boutique firms and in-house teams. Ash Street is another example of this. Clearly lawyers want more from their careers than the top tier firms can structurally deliver. One of the most interesting developments is 'dispersed law firms' like Nexus Lawyers that are playing on this trend and collecting senior lawyers from the top firms and joining them through a collegiate contracting network for a unified service delivery. Clients are getting better fees, including fixed fee and in house placements, out of this model and the remuneration structure far exceeds traditional firms. It is these models that will drive real change in the legal industry and it is interesting to observe the global trends in this area. Interestingly, Australians have not yet really adopted this model universally, even though it is by far the most sensible and efficient mode of practice for both lawyers and clients.

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