Start-ups demand a new type of legal service that offers packaged services that could include a suite of precedents and practical advice across business law areas from intellectual property, to ecommerce and employment law. This empowers the client with knowledge and an inexpensive alternative to traditional legal services when establishing the rudimentary corporate and operational areas of their organisation. Law is not a last resort, it can a preventative measure that provides business with practical tools and strategies that avoid litigation.
The Australian government’s recent tax concessions to start ups acknowledges that innovation is driving our economy and will reshape the law and legal practice. To succeed, legal practitioners will need to understand their clients and make access to legal services affordable. As a start-up grows, so too does the relationship with the lawyer or firm who becomes an integrated part of the business, similar to the accountant, who has taken significant market share in relation to tax and corporate law advice.
This is not to suggest that lawyers become business consultants/analysts or imply that there is no place for the high level legal skill required for technical matters. It simply recognises the need for law firms to deliver and bill legal advice in a more cost effective, practical way, providing more options and solutions for clients.
Lawyers will also benefit from working with entrepreneurs and start-ups, a culture in which everything is possible. Fusing creative strategic and analytical minds will encourage innovation and leadership within the legal profession to generate value, good will and increased market share and revenue for firms and clients.
As part of their growth strategy, small to mid-tier law firms need to improve their marketing, particularly through social media in order to engage with the entrepreneurial community. This is one area that lawyers can also learn from start-ups. Even large firms, who have (often largely resourced) centralised marketing and communications teams are out of touch using with impactful marketing strategies, especially social media. Social media engagement is important on two levels – to build the firm’s brand (attracting new clients) and lawyer’s personal branding to build thought leadership in the profession. And of course, as Jiwa writes, marketing is less about persuasion and more about understanding your client.
Law firms need to change their image if they are to identify and connect with start-ups and entrepreneurs, their emerging new client base and practice area to survive. Leadership from small to mid tier firms can tap into the market demand for flexible, affordable legal services that the start up space demands by changing the traditional firm billing model and by offering dynamic, practical options that demonstrate an understanding of their client - an emerging new business class that is no longer dominated by white, middle-aged man wearing a designer European suit.
Title inspired by Jen Curcio.