The legal field has found its footing and is modernising with success unlike other sectors of the Australian business community. Law firms are changing the way they do business to remain competitive by focusing on value for money and business-to-business skills-exchanges.
Lawyers are often guilty of taking advantage of clients through complicated pricing structures, or a complete lack of pricing structures, often opting to charge in small increments of time for work performed. Deputy Senior Partner of Herbert Smith Freehills, Mark Crean says this is exactly what his firm has overhauled. “We’ve trained ourselves to talk to clients upfront about money, and what fee structure might work best for a particular project. A lot of lawyers haven’t liked doing that in the past”.
Transparent fee structures and pro-activity have been very much on the agenda of forward thinking Australian law firms over the past 12 months. With cost of living pressures and job uncertainty hitting home, lawyers understand the average person today cannot contract a lawyer without a clear indication of the final cost involved.
Seconding is also on the rise. Seconding is when a lawyer remains employed by their firm, but enters into a contract with a third party firm to carry out duties for that other business for an agreed period of time. Secondment is intended as a skills and knowledge sharing exercise, a free, two-way flow of information if you will.
“It’s mutually beneficial so long as the requirements are discussed beforehand. We’ve got a client we’re doing a partner secondment to at the moment. They’re a fast-growing smaller firm who don’t have a huge budget today but still want their risk input and legal input to be top notch and our firm will learn from that dynamic kind of environment”, says Crean.
It’s outside the box tactics such as this which are needed to ensure legal representation is accessible by all members of the public and not just by those with heavy pockets.