We have been seeing a lot in the media about ‘the rise of the machines’ and the great efficiencies AI (artificial intelligence) promises to bring to all areas of business, including the law.
As lawyers, we are being bombarded by stories about new law and elaw, the provision of low priced legal services online.
At Fox and Thomas, we have been looking for some time at how technology can make our service more timely and cost effective for our clients, and so we welcome these new advances.
We do have hesitation about the wholescale shifting of legal services to online platforms, particularly in relation to legal services for business. In our experience, a close relationship is essential to get the best result.
A recent legal industry survey has found our clients may be feeling the same, as expectations have changed from lawyers being simply providers of advice when required, to be more like business partners to their clients.
The 2017 BDO Law Firm Leaders Survey found that an increasing number of clients, particularly business owners, are calling on their lawyers to act more like business partners and be both proactive and creative in providing ideas to their business.
We certainly see this trend is evident in our agricultural and rural business client base.
Where once legal advice was given only as and when requested and primarily on a transactional basis, we now work with some clients in a way that is far more integrated into their business.
This may take the form of attending board meetings or other internal meetings to provide input. It might involve being part of discussions about succession planning, restructuring or sales or acquisitions long before the actual terms need to be negotiated.
Fox and Thomas has always been deeply involved in the community where we practice and we know and understand the agribusiness sector we primarily advise. However, the growing trend of closer ties is a step further.
This is about getting to know your business and providing the sort of creative advice and solutions that only comes from that deep understanding.
The change from the traditional lawyer/client model also brings new approaches to how clients and lawyers work with each other and how costs are structured.
Document sharing, video conferencing and other developing technologies make it easier for the information exchange between lawyer and client.
We are also always looking at new fee models that better suit how we and our clients are now working together.
Fixed fees, capped fees, staged costs, monthly retainers and annual packages are just some of the approaches that may better suit our clients than the traditional time based billing method.
If you would like to discuss a more integrated approach to how we can work together to better support your business, please contact any of our directors to discuss this in more detail.