The "Mavericks" of our Field
Even with the explosion of popularity in blogs among professionals (specifically those in the legal field), the sheer mass of the internet makes it very difficult to find those who are innovating alongside of us in this field. However, Merrilyn Tarlton from the American Bar Association recently wrote a great piece on our line of work and highlighted some specific firms who are doing what she rightly calls "business innovation" (see it here).
Ms. Tarlton hits the nail right on the head when she says "its not just about improving. Its about reinventing". That is exactly what firms who take the plunge into the tech-age are doing. We aren't trying to improve the old-style firm model - we are leaving it in the dust. What we are doing now is reinventing the entire way legal services are given.
I also sincerely enjoy Ms. Tarlton's commentary on the mindset that too many in our field hold, this idea that somehow the legal field is immune to the need to grow into the 21st century - as she says: "[they] believe that this honorable and centuries-old profession transcends the need to innovate". However, the great thing is that there are so many fantastic attorneys who have realized the need, broken from the chains of stability and taken many risks to bring clients a service miles ahead of what was available ten years ago.
One of these firms is this Hardcore Superstar Legal Management Corporation, founded by Joseph Briante and Theresa Holiday James. The firm offers very unique services that combine to form a sort of management firm for clients who are dealing with other attorneys. They offer a "Legal Services Audit" that keeps tabs on a client's legal team and than creates a report card for them, so the client can most efficiently utilize their legal dollars. Hardcore Superstar also offers a "Legal Valet" whereby they manage the work done by legal teams for high-value clients. According to the article, the tag-line for the program is "You don't carry your own bags, so why do you still deal with your lawyers?".
There are two firms who are cited in this article as having actually ended the hourly billing model and fully embracing the flat-fee model. A Boston firm Exemplar Law Partners has finally relinquished the hourly model for a more "customer friendly" path with both flat-fees and guaranteed client satisfaction. Another unique firm that is pushing the envelope in our field is Convergent GC out of Beverly, Massachusetts. Convergent tries to take client satisfaction one step further by offering small businesses the legal services that have until now been reserved for those in the boardroom. Convergent is creating this new form of outside general counsel that specifically tailored to the starting-out entrepreneur, and it appears to be doing quite well.
The final firm highlighted by Ms. Tarlton in her article is a Seattle based one by the name of Summit Law Group. This firm has totally eliminated the traditional hierarchy system of its predecessors by eliminating the partner-associate distinctions, spotlighting each and every member of the firm on the website, giving everyone the same sized office and making compensation and finance numbers made common knowledge which are discussed at weekly meetings. Summit Law also offers its clients a "value adjustment line" on their bill whereby the client's fee can be reduced in order to compensate for low quality service.
Great things are coming from across the country. Lawyers who are sick and tired of wasting their lives stuck in the models of old are finally breaking out to create firms that are providing a better service to clients and increasing the quality of life for those who are finding better uses of their time than hours behind a desk. Congratulations to the firms Ms. Tarlton wrote of, I think you guys are doing great things for our field of work.
Thank you immensely for the blog - please find our site at www.hardcoresuperstar.ca
Posted by: Joseph Briante | 2007.01.09 at 12:53
I don't know how much you know about the Hardcore Superstar, Joseph Briante, but this link might entertain you. He made quite a splash in the biglaw scene in Vancouver when he quit his biglaw job a few months ago.
Posted by: rob | 2007.01.18 at 22:44
Form over substance never sits well with me. Thanks for the link Rob. I will follow up on this one later .....
Posted by: GAL | 2007.01.19 at 09:43