A “Gig Economy” for Lawyers?
Hardly a day goes by when we’re not interacting with someone working the “gig economy” — that Uber driver who gave us a ride, a Instacart grocery shopper or the Bite Squad person dropping off your dinner.
You soon might be able to add one more person to that list: your lawyer.
A pair of articles in the recent Forum magazine from the Legal Executive Institute discuss how the disruptive forces that have reshaped transportation, groceries and restaurants, are now advancing into the legal space. And some of the prime examples of this cutting edge are found in Denmark and United Arab Emirates.
The Fluid Law Firm (and Lawyer)
In an increasingly competitive market, law firms are under pressure to innovate and adapt to a more client-centric market. “Agile, Adaptable and Engaged — Introducing Fluid Law Firms” explores the importance of valuing ecosystems over assets, and use of more flexible project management approaches to meeting clients’ needs. It cites the example of Danish law firm DAHL Advokatfirma. They have successfully applied a structure with project managers and interim teams consisting of both clients and attorneys. moving away from the traditional relationships of clients attached to individual attorneys or practice groups. The project managers assemble teams of both firm attorneys and freelance specialized talent as needed on a case-by-case basis.
This approach has “strengthened DAHL’s brand as clients became more attached to the firm itself rather than the individual lawyer. Additionally, an increased ability to forecast and manage the projects has reduced pricing shock caused by lack of planning,” with more precise forecasting of project costs.
The “Uber” of Law Firms
In United Arab Emirates, Support Legal has taken a similar concept a step further in supporting a broad range of clients from tech startups to global banks. “Is the Law Firm of the Future in Abu Dhabi?” describes a legal service provider that is grounded more in legal technology and less in legal tradition. Support Legal deploys a network of senior lawyers with decades of experience from leading firms, but now working as remote, freelance attorneys scattered across the globe. Managing client work is handled almost entirely digitally — from intake to work product to billing. All services are provided on a fixed fee basis with no billable hours that, like DAHL’s fluid law firm model, avoids “sticker shock” when the client receives the invoice.
The firm combines cutting edge technology and a flexible quality workforce into a radically innovative legal services delivery model. Co-founder and principal Lee McMahon envisions an “Uber of law” providing unparalleled efficiency, convenience and transparency. Law that moves at the speed of modern commerce in the Internet Age.
DAHL and Support Legal may be the forerunners of new ways for clients to engage lawyers, providing new levels of flexibility that both increase the value provided to clients, as well as provide lawyers new modes of working and career paths. The article on fluid law firms cites research by Hazlewoods showing that “the gig economy for lawyers continues to expand” with an increase of 29% in 2018.
Will your next attorney be a freelancer?