Independent lawyer collaboration and the modern law firm

independent lawyer collaborationRunning a solo or small law firm offers a number of compelling benefits, including autonomy, better work-life balance and more flexibility. One downside for some lawyers, however, can be a sense of isolation. Independent lawyer collaboration can put an end to isolation while also helping small firms build their business.

Collaborating to meet client needs

The American Bar Association referred to collaboration among solo practitioners as “the vogue of teamwork.” Although we view it more as common sense than vogue, the ABA’s reasoning strikes a chord. Collaboration allows independent lawyers to offer the depth and level of service clients expect:

“An increasing number of solo and small firm lawyers are working with external colleagues on cases or on discrete tasks, for access to specialty areas, through referrals and on fee-splitting arrangements…

The thesis is that access to special teams, like those employed in large firm environments, gives small firms cachet and their clients confidence. Teams can include former colleagues, referral sources and contract lawyers.”

Collaborating in this manner allows lawyers to form teams as necessary to meet client needs, but without the overhead of employing permanent staff. Each lawyer on the team benefits from the arrangement while maintaining his or her business autonomy.

Benefits of collaboration

A roundtable discussion hosted by The American Lawyer highlighted several key benefits lawyers derive from collaboration, including:

  • The ability to offer complementary services outside one practice area
  • Access to other professionals’ insight and expertise
  • Varied perspectives on a case or client challenge
  • Shared costs and resources

In the roundtable, Randolph K. Adler pointed to collaboration as a means for supplementing a firm’s client offering:

“Although some boutiques offer ‘generalist’ services, many have a specific focus and/or specialization. As a result, usually there is a need to round out the firm’s service offerings to compete with traditional ‘one-stop shopping’ firms. Often, this is achieved through collaborations with other lawyers or law firms.”

In addition, these collaborative relationships can shift according to client needs. Rather than building a 100-person law firm, independent lawyers and small firms can forge short-term relationships on a case-by-case basis. In short, collaboration allows independent lawyers to be nimble as the respond to market needs.

Collaborative environments

Another participant in the roundtable, David A. Ambrose, pointed to nontraditional office environments as fostering collaboration between lawyers.

Co-working spaces and other shared office environments encourage interaction between business owners, and this interaction can lead to business-building relationships. According to Ambrose:

“…we are seeing the sharing of open office environments by solo lawyers operating in different practice areas, and also with other small businesses. This leads to these lawyers and business people collaborating on various projects and contributing their respective expertise, and handing each other business, which is a true bonus. We’ve enjoyed great success by sharing our office space with attorneys who have different practices than ours, which has resulted in a sharing of resources and new business referrals.”

We have seen that same result at our LawBank offices. Independent lawyers from different backgrounds and practice areas work side-by-side and often forge mutually beneficial relationships.

To learn more about LawBank’s shared office space for lawyers in Denver, contact us. We offer affordable office space and co-working space at two locations in Denver. 

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