The legal industry has shown it can adapt to disruption. But it has further to go in partnering with alternative service providers.
By Julie Sobowale – CBA National Magazine
The article, published March 1, 2021, and in which I was quoted, appears in part below.
The year 2020 was a big year for the legal industry. Virtual hearings and electronically witnessing documents, once considered difficult or impossible, are now the norm. No wonder legal tech companies have been reaping the rewards.
In October 2020, RBC Ventures bought Founded, an app that helps entrepreneurs with incorporation documents and legal agreements. The very same month, DoProcess, a popular real estate software provider based in Toronto, acquired NoticeConnect, a website where lawyers and trustees can post notices to creditors and others looking for wills. Two months later, the software giant Dye and Durham snapped up DoProcess for $530 million.
In many ways, 2020 ushered in a long-overdue tech revolution. The surge in legal tech acquisitions also illustrates how fast law firms, legal departments, and courts can shift. Alternative legal service providers, a catch-all term encompassing legal startups, established tech firms, innovative law firms and other niche organizations, are poised to make new inroads in the Canadian legal industry.
It can be challenging for legal startups to get work from in-house counsel. Heather Suttie, a legal marketing and business development consultant, says startups need to focus on who is managing the workflow and making customer support a priority.
“Many GCs will use a big brand name for their litigation, but they could use a startup for their document review,” she says. “Whatever you develop, you have to be able to customize it. Once you have a GC on board, you’ll have a new collaborator who can support you.”
Another 2021 trend will be a renewed focus on workplace collaboration. The 2021 Report on the State of the Legal Market revealed that pre-pandemic, only 37 per cent of lawyers wanted to work remotely. Now three out of every four lawyers prefer working from home. Suttie says the shift will cause issues in law firm culture, particularly for traditional firms where face time with partners is so valuable.
“Team members are used to running into each other and having spontaneous conversations,” she says. “That’s important. For some teams, not working in a traditional structure may lead to loss of culture. The challenge is because when people are disbursed, they may forget who can help them, and that they can pick up the phone and call someone.”
The full story is here on the Canadian Bar Association’s website.
As a follow-up, my April 2021 Canadian Lawyer marketing opinion column will focus on finding your place in the legal ecosystem whether you’re a member of a traditional law firm or law company, practising or non-practising lawyer, or have never practiced law in your life and have no intention to ever doing so.
Watch this space. Until then, my February 2021 column, Being Superhuman, examines how value is a measure of worth and often has nothing to do with cost. Instead, it pertains to trust and faith.
Heather Suttie is an internationally recognized legal market strategy and management consultant to leaders of premier law firms and legal service providers worldwide.
For 25 years, she has accelerated performance within law firms and legal service businesses — Global to Solo | BigLaw to NewLaw — by providing consultative direction on legal business strategy, market strategy, management strategy, and client strategy. The result is a distinctive one-of-one legal market position and sustained competitive advantage culminating in greater market share, revenue and profits.