Australian New Law ‘Disrupter’ Law Firm Benefits From Pandemic With UK Expansion

Australian New Law 'Disrupter' Law Firm Benefits From Pandemic With UK Expansion 2
The subscription-based legal service providers have seen a massive growth in demand following the pandemic, rather than the conventional hourly billing model favored for so long by most traditional law firms.
LegalVision this year expanded into  New Zealand from Australia and has aggressive international expansion plans for its model.  The firm experienced around 30 per cent annual growth in Australia in recent years and has saturated the Australian market according to the chief executive Lachlan McKnight.
The Australian Financial Review reported that four LegalVision staff are heading to Manchester to begin operations for the firm before recruiting UK lawyers.  Manchester was chosen to create a lower cost environment than London, given that lawyers are working from home and a low-rent option was preferable.
LegalVision came into the legal industry from the opposite direction, having begun life as an online legal documents business, using technology tocreate a client-centric approach towards legal services.  It joins a growing list of NewLaw firms that continue to invade the traditional legal service space, providing agile, tech-driven and subscription- or alternative fee arrangement billing for clients.

 Lachlan McKnight said COVID-19 had driven demand for the subscription or fixed-fee billing and online advice that differentiates “NewLaw” firms from traditional law firms.

Australian New Law 'Disrupter' Law Firm Benefits From Pandemic With UK Expansion 3
LegalVision’s Lauren Wray, Lachlan McKnight, Lauren McKee and Rob Nay are heading to the UK early next year to launch the firm’s British office.Another recent Australian NewLaw firm that has made moves in Australia is Law Squared, which opened a permanent office in Melbourne and grew is Brisbane legal team.

While the firm had “a small dip” in demand when COVID-19 first hit Australia last March,McKnight said it bounced back quickly as it, like other legal start-ups, found its online offerings and lower price point appealed to businesses dealing with the uncertainty of the pandemic and working remotely.

He pointed to the security of the subscription model – it means unexpected legal costs do not arise as the fee is all-inclusive – and increased need for employment law and capital raising advice as drivers of demand.

LegalVision has recorded about 30 per cent revenue growth annually for the past few years, but Mr McKnight said it had saturated the Australian market, so the move overseas was a natural next step.

“We want to build the biggest possible business, and it’s hard to grow bigger than that in Australia now.

“But the UK market is a good one because they have a similar approach to corporates owning law firms … and the small to medium business online market is three times bigger for legal services there [than Australia’s].

“So our thinking is that we can replicate what we are doing in Australia overseas, with a subscription model and acquisition online.”

It is also partnering with the US-based BizCounsel, which also services small and medium businesses and start-ups under a similar model, to expand its offering in North America.

McKnight said he hoped the expansion will help LegalVision attract and retain staff amid lawyer shortages in Britain, the US and Australia.

Growth in Subscription Model for Law Firms

The subscription model for law firm billing has been a growing and more attractive trend for many lawyers seeking an alternative to the existing hourly billing model.

We published a recent column from consultant Kim Beane on the alternative billing methods here.

The subscription model can be seen as a marketing tactic through the increased power of technology.  For instance, the automating of documentation, use of major online resources and other benefits that BigLaw firms are also using with their low-cost services to startups and others.

The subscription model is not necessarily an ‘all you can eat’ model, but rather is one that provides either minor or low-cost legal services and consultations as part of the subscription deal on offer.

One of the biggest proponents of legal subscription model for law firms is Jon Tobin of Counsel for Creators.

In a recent podcast interview, he explained that he not only provides more basic legal services as part of the subscription, but he also maintains a bank of webinars and forms, and other tools for his clients to use.

Clients receive the advantage of having a lawyer on call—as well as a bank of  substantial legal resources at their fingertips that may help them avoid legal issues that might arise later.

 

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