NewLaw should keep adapting or be ‘run down’, expert warns

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The unique NewLaw offering is becoming more and more widely spread, with many major firms having launched an alternative structured legal business in the past 12 to 18 months, competing with the threat of the NewLaw model.

AdventBalance co-founder Ken Jagger doesn’t believe traditional firms can offer what NewLaw can, but he did say that the sudden influx means NewLaw firms should continue to look to innovate, in order to increase their scale and profitability, and to avoid the risk of being run down.  

“NewLaw firms need to extend their market reach and turn good ideas into sustainably profitable businesses.  The next phase of change in the legal industry extends to NewLaw firms.  It is time for them to transform also,” Jagger he told delegates at the Janders Dean Legal Horizons Conference in Sydney.

He said NewLaw firms have changed the legal landscape forever, a model so attractive to lawyers, the lure was immediate.  But while clients were quick to jump on the NewLaw bandwagon, large traditional firms were initially slow to react to market changes.

“For the first 6 years they ignored and belittled the start-ups and simply hoped that the trends in the market would turn back in their favour,” Jagger said.

“More recently though, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the NewLaw providers should be very flattered.”

Now, if legal services might pose a real threat to NewLaw businesses that don’t adapt.

“I believe that the death of big law has been greatly exaggerated,” he said.

“However I remain deeply sceptical of the traditional law firms’ capacity to change their business model and deliver everything that their lawyers and clients want.  Some firms will, but not enough to eliminate the disruptive competition.

“I question whether in fact trying to imitate the NewLaw providers is even the best path for most law firms.  There are numerous alternatives.”