NewLaw Guru: Partners need to get real
World-renowned legal thought leader, Mitch Kowalski, has criticised the current generation of law firm partners for not taking serious steps to future-proof the Australian legal industry.
Speaking at an Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) event, Kowalski said law firms are not only failing to address the needs of their clients, they are also failing to address the needs of their own millennial talent – despite already having the tools to do both.
"Let me ask you: how many law firm 'innovation' announcements are simply good public relations, and how many are real, actionable, and sustainable? The clatter of information about law firm innovation has become overwhelming and confusing," Kowalski said.
"Just as Generals talk about the 'fog of war,' the 'fog of legal innovation' has settled thickly over the legal services industry – all with very little change to it." Mr Kowalski said part of the problem is that many firms are over-invested in their current business model: "This causes them to miss, and even ignore, the needs and desires of their clients. But at some point, there will be a reckoning."
Leading insurance law specialists HBA Legal hosted the ALPMA event in Sydney, with Director Nathan Hepple explaining HBA was founded on NewLaw principles.
"Our delivery service model is unique in Australia and clients love it because we work as a team to devise a path to get to an outcome, rather than approach it old style: day by day, racking up fees with no clear direction on the end game for the client.
"It seems crazy to me that I can stand here and say our model is unique – it shouldn't be unique – more firms need to be adapting and evolving.
"I actually see it as my obligation to the next generation of young lawyers coming through the pipeline to heed these warnings and take this stuff seriously," Hepple said.
Kowalski added: "Sadly, many partners of traditional law firms who are nearing retirement have taken the short-sighted, and some might say, selfish attitude that the industry reformation will happen after they're out of the profession. As a consequence, it's easier and more profitable for them personally to put their heads in the sand."
Mr Kowalski is in Sydney this week as a guest of HBA Legal. He will speak to faculty and students at the University of Newcastle on Friday, having already spent time in Perth earlier this month with Curtin University and the University of Western Australia.
About Mitch Kowalski
Kowalski is a former partner at a major international law firm and former in-house Counsel, a legal innovation consultant, Fastcase 50 Global Legal Innovator and the Gowling WLG Visiting Professor in Legal Innovation at the University of Calgary Law School. He's a sought-after commentator and speaker on legal innovation around the world, and the author of two critically-acclaimed NewLaw books including "The Great Legal Reformation" which provides a range of case studies illustrating the gains to be had from treading a NewLaw path. Kowalski lives in Toronto.
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