Posted by Jay Kamlet on Jan 28, 2014
Increasingly, attorneys are leaving big firms for a more nimble business model
“The old, stuffy type of firm is outdated.”—Claudine Homolash, as quoted in The Legal Intelligencer
The article featuring Homolash, titled “Lawyers Leaving Firms in Search of New Business Models,” came across our desk last week. Yes, there are more and more lawyers seeking new business models to adapt to a changing legal marketplace. By simply looking into the LawBank space, we can tell that it’s true, because those lawyers are exactly the people who end up renting co-working or office space here.
Legal Intelligencer reporter Zack Needles outlined the growing trend of lawyers leaving big, traditional firms to start solo practices and small firms, writing:
“In a post-recession legal landscape, the era of clients with seemingly unlimited legal budgets is becoming an increasingly distant memory along with the concept of limitless hourly rates…
That shift has brought with it a wave of attorneys who set out to respond to these demands by starting small or solo practices predicated on delivering legal services in the most efficient way possible, without the bulky overhead and sometimes antiquated business models of larger firms.”
The attorneys profiled by Needles discussed clients who were expecting more accountability and efficiency from their legal counsel, and these solo practitioners have been rising to the call by offering alternative billing plans – such as retainers, success fees or contingent fees – and staffing their small firms with specialized lawyers who didn’t necessarily fit the big firm mold.
“There’s so much legal talent out there that’s not tapped into simply because the traditional model doesn’t necessarily value it,” small-firm attorney Will Sylianteng said.
One challenge to the solo lawyer model, reported Needles, is the potential lack of support. LawBank has helped to overcome that concern by creating strategic relationships with companies like My Watson, www.my-watson.com, which provides practice management support for solo and small-firm lawyers with services like secretarial, paralegal, accounting and information technology.
“While it can be difficult to service clients as a solo attorney who’s used to working in a firm setting, where backup is typically within arm’s reach, several of the lawyers The Legal spoke to said they have relationships with larger firms that allow them to handle larger matters when necessary,” he wrote.
He added that some solo practitioners partner together to work on some cases. We have seen that happen at LawBank, because the nature of the co-working and shared office environment encourages just that kind of collaboration. LawBank members don’t have to feel like they are completely on their own, because they have a built-in network of other legal experts right on site, as well as younger talent whose strengths can be leveraged like those in law firms.
We are interested in seeing where this trend takes the legal industry, and we’re loving where it is taking the small firms and solo practices we know and love here in the Denver area.
To read the complete Legal Intelligencer article, click here (registration required).