In this podcast, Mark Pownall talks to Aaron McDonald from Pragma Legal and Catriona Macleod from Cullen Macleod about the WA commercial and civil legal market, including the rise of technology and the increase in client bargaining power.
In the last few years there’s been an ongoing trend towards clients having more choice and consumers having more power, which comes from a variety of areas including a huge increase in alternative law models, with online contract models gaining more popularity over traditional physical models. As a result of this, there’s now a massive difference of variety in client options and price points which is changing the industry. Competition has also increased and the power of the clients to choose their lawyer is now stronger, leaving lawyers to fight amongst themselves to keep their clients happy.
The pressure is on to innovate and impress clients through developing new tech based services that improve both cost and efficiency. Catriona states that people tend not to see an investment in technology and instead naturally lean towards physical workers such as paralegals to carry out certain tasks at a higher salary that could otherwise be completed by technology. “It’s a low investment, huge ROI and better for the client”. There is a huge amount of simple and practical technology tools out there such as legal automation. Documents for example can now almost be self-created, which takes away the donkey work of lawyers. This has drastically reduced the price and cost to the consumer of a whole raft of boilerplate documents, such as shareholders agreements and leases. You shouldn’t be paying a lawyer to do that from start to finish.
Lawyers are notoriously known for charging in 6 minute increments; however, these days are slowly coming to an end with the introduction of more technology based services and therefore more fixed prices. The advantage at the end of the day ultimately goes to the clients. If you’re looking at the lawyers, it hasn’t necessarily been a winning way for the bigger firms; it’s evened the playing field between the smaller and larger law firms.
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