As the legal industry becomes more competitive new law firms and new law firm structures have developed. And the process has not been one limited to smaller firms and boutiques. Now, Magic Circle firm Allen & Overy have developed a new initiative that provides a 'top up' when they're busy, offset by reduced overheads when the work slows.
The A&O developments provides for self-employed lawyers to provide their services at times of peak demand for legal expertise from the firm and is a result of their managing partner Wim Dejonghe saying there needed to be more flexibility in the law firm model.
The Lawyer reports that the A&O model, called "Peerpoint", will work initially with A&O alumni when specialist legal skills are required.
The service is similar to law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner's "Lawyers on Demand", launched in 2008 and which provides lawyers to both inhouse legal teams and to other law firms as a secondment deal with BLP adding a pay-as-you-go service this year.
The developments come at a time of high pressure on law firm overheads and fees, with firms exploring different avenues to maintain profits and at least hold if not reduce overhead items.The A&O service involves senior associates and partners and has started in London with 10 lawyers, which is likely to expand to around 30. The firm intends rolling out the offering to at least five other offices in due course.
“Clients are very keen to get this going,” he stressed. ”It means when there are big demands in work we can call on people we know. The idea behind this is to make sure our best people, who might just want to focus on legal work and have less interest in the other aspects of being a lawyer, or want more flexiblity in their lives, can stay in touch with the business and the clients.”
Mr Dejonghe indicated that the traditional law firm model was under pressure and lacked flexibility, particularly in a "low growth" environment.
The situation also provides many lawyers with increased opportunities to engage with high level work at a senior level without having to be burdened by the demands of working within a large firm at partnership or associate level.
LawFuel has previously reported on the changed structure of law firms under the British and Australian Alternative Business Model (ABS), evidenced by firms like Keystone who employ home-based lawyers working around a central "hub".
The development of new models for law firms is seen as inevitable by many commentators who regard the traditional, largely unchanged law firm business model to be badly outmoded or even redundant in a competitive situation where the fee advantage has moved heavily in favour of the clients and away from the once dominant law firms.
Source: LawFuel / The Lawyer