Articles.

How NewLaw is Disrupting the Legal Landscape

What is NewLaw?

NewLaw is essentially a catch-all term that encompasses any set of legal work practices that leverage an innovative use of modern technology, alternative communication solutions and pricing structures to deliver a cost-effective, efficient and high-quality service to clients. 

While that all sounds very interesting, how exactly does that result in better outcomes for clients?

Out With the Old…

To an extent, traditional law firms are structured in ways that actively work against the best interests of their clients and even their own lawyers. Nowhere is this more evident than in how legal fees have historically been determined. 

Legal services have long been priced according to the time-honoured billable hour model. Lawyers log the time they spend working on their client’s case in six-minute increments and use these units of time to calculate their fees. This arrangement is often a source of frustration for clients as it creates a great deal of uncertainty as to how expensive a lawyer’s services will be. After all, if you’re charging by the hour, what incentive do you have to be efficient?

Charging by the hour also creates unhealthy incentives for lawyers to work long hours to impress their employers. Many law firms set billable hour targets that must be achieved if a lawyer wants to progress up the firm’s hierarchy. This often leads to lawyers experiencing high levels of stress and even burning out. NewLaw can provide a solution to all of this. 

…In With the New

NewLaw firms harness modern technology to make the provisioning of legal services more streamlined and easier to access for clients. By using innovations like document automation, lawyers can avoid getting bogged down in simple and repetitive administrative tasks and become more client focused. 

To that end, why should it still be necessary for clients to waste a day making appointments to meet a lawyer in person? NewLaw services allow lawyers to engage clients easily through communication channels like live chat to resolve queries in a more efficient manner. The use of technology such as video conferencing and cloud computing software can also empower lawyers to work from home while still providing top quality service. 

A major benefit of NewLaw is the pricing advantage it gives firms. Instead of relying on the obscure and costly billable hours method, NewLaw firms can offer a variety of fee structures to provide clients with more value-based pricing. 

NewLaw firms recognise that fees should reflect the value lawyers provide their clients rather than the time lawyers spend on their work. This fundamentally reorients priorities so that producing results for the client is the central concern. 

The NewLaw paradigm encourages law firms to collaborate with clients to pre-determine fees based on what outcomes are to be achieved. Performing the due diligence necessary to determine the scope of a project as well as the client’s needs provides the client with greater understanding of how much they are paying and what they are paying for. This transparency in pricing is at the heart of NewLaw and counters the worst aspects of the traditional billable hours method. 

Aligning a law firm’s pricing with the outcomes expected from their clients requires law firms to enact strict project management strategies to ensure they do not accrue excessive costs that threaten their profitability. NewLaw’s emphasis on technological innovation streamlines work practices; for example, using cloud-based tools to allow team members to communicate and exchange information efficiently. Cutting edge technology like legal analytics software enables lawyers to gain useful insights from large amounts of data productively. 

This focus on value over time spent also benefits lawyers, as they are no longer judged by how many hours they put in at the office but by the results they achieve for their clients. This respect for quality of work over sheer number of billable hours logged, along with the potential to work remotely, promotes a better work/life balance which decreases stress and supports positive mental and emotional wellbeing. 

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