Is it time to bench your #oldlaw firm?

The rise of team 'in-house lawyer'

If you've ever worked alongside a good in-house lawyer, you're probably not surprised to know that the fastest growing competition to traditional law firms is in-house legal teams. Businesses are realising the positive impact a savvy and personable internal legal adviser brings to the table. They are aligned to the goals of the business and develop close relationships at all levels. They fulfil a trusted adviser role that goes beyond merely protecting the legal interests of the business by enhancing its standing, and its ethical business dealings. They are pragmatic in balancing risk and opportunity. They see ahead.

As experienced advisers our directors have been at the forefront of delivering their expertise in-house for over a decade. And they loved it -  they had a daily impact on profit and staked their claim in strategic and tactical planning. They solved problems. They delivered real business outcomes, and they rode shotgun with great people doing great things. 

But some businesses are facing a salary cap squeeze

Not every business can commit to the fixed cost of an experienced lawyer coming into a business.

This means the playing field isn't always so level for these businesses.  They don't have a permanent adviser working autonomously and providing meaningful outcomes. They are often stuck with advisers that still charge them by the hour, or base their offering on hourly rates, because of the adviser firm's internal reward systems and overheads.

There is of course still a place for law firms and their teams of advisers. It's just clear that a lot of businesses are also wondering if always relying on law firms is the best use of their money and time. Many businesses are facing disruption in their own patch, whether through technology or simply customer demand for lower cost. However, increased regulation, competition and complexity makes it hard to lower costs while needing hands-on, personal advice from experts that understand how the business works, and work smarter to enhance profit. 

Free agency is here

This is why we created our 'My Counsel' service, to offer businesses:

  • direct access to an experienced and successful ‘in-house’ lawyer offering hands-on, personal service without the permanent fixed cost
  • quick turnaround times without sacrificing quality
  • peace of mind that employees, and customer and client relationships are in a safe pair of hands
  • practical and simple methods and tools to transfer knowledge to work smarter, without waiting to be asked

It starts with a conversation about what value means to the client and what role a legal adviser should play for that client.

In our view, a fee-for service model should ensure certainty of costs and outcomes for the client - whether you're in a growth phase, or an established business looking to proactively manage contract risks and have a pragmatic legal adviser bringing real experience to the executive table.

Play the ball, not the player

And if it's time to do away with the traditional delivery of legal services, it's also high time to dispel the myth that all lawyers are a drag on opportunity and always a 'handbrake to happiness'. We never want to be the reason our clients are stressed or avoid getting great help. Being 'easy to do business with' should be the motto of any legal adviser frankly.

This isn't revolutionary - it is simply what good in-house lawyers do. 

If you want a legal adviser that runs the ball instead of throwing you a hospital handpass, perhaps it's time to find some new players that understand your gameplan.

Martin Richardson

Martin has spent the last 12 years working as a senior legal adviser inside some of Australia’s foremost companies, as well as within the Australian businesses of some of the world’s largest companies. As ‘inside counsel’ Martin has learned that any effective commercial legal adviser understands how to balance the role of business defender with the role of business partner. Corvus are business lawyers and workplace advisors, with over 20 years experience working in Australian and international companies.