A new chapter: flexible working in law
Slowly but surely, the legal industry is evolving and the effects of COVID-19 have only accelerated
the process. Even the traditional law firm is accepting that remote working is the way of the future.
But what of NewLaw business models? Established well before the pandemic made its world-
changing appearance and often touted for their benefits to clients, do NewLaw businesses offer a
new and improved way of working for lawyers?
Read this: Rethinking Legal Services
What’s the difference?
The traditional law firm is a well-oiled machine. Junior lawyers are fed in at the bottom and work
their way upwards, usually putting in an excessive number of hours, over several years. The prize is to materialise as an equity partner at the top, able to share in the lucrative profits but often subject to client retention and billing worries.
The NewLaw model is different. Gone is the hierarchy of the traditional partnership and the reliance on partners to trickle work through the ranks. NewLaw businesses provide legal support to clients as it’s needed. They offer flexible services and pricing with some supplying non-legal services, such as accountancy and tech solutions, in parallel with legal support.
What’s in it for me?
The flexibility inherent in the NewLaw structure is passed onto the lawyers themselves. Remote
working and flexible hours are standard. As a result, the technology available is first-rate, developed to enable the lawyers to work as effectively as if they were in the office. Alternative fee structures mean that billing targets are a thing of the past with the priority being on quality of work, rather than the number of hours billed.
The end-result is less time working and more time living, whether this be spending time with family, exercising, taking on a new hobby or engaging in further education. There’s also no commute, which means less spent on transport and a calmer start and end to the day.
There must be a downside, right?
Yes, as with most new things, some areas may take a while to get used to. Working remotely, as
many of us have recently realised, means reduced social contact. Office politics may abound at the
watercooler but there are also jokes made and friendships cemented. Networking options are also
more limited and think about how much knowledge and experience is gained simply by overhearing discussions in the office. That said, these issues can all be overcome with a little pro-action – virtual coffee breaks and lunchtimes or online training, for example.
What is now abundantly clear is that you can be an excellent lawyer, take on fascinating work and further your career, while maintaining your independence and achieving a work-life balance – something which has been suspected by many lawyers for some time.