Tomorrow is lawyer´s day in Mexico, so I decided to write on legal practice. US law firms have been moving into Mexico more frequently over last 3 years. The latest big move was Hogan Lovells merging with Barrera, Siqueiros y Torres Landa, to be effective on August 1.
The global legal market has been one of the most active sectors in the world, moved by mergers, lateral hirings, Asia market growth, bankruptcies, low enrollments to law school and globalization.
Entrepreneurs, legal market thinkers and forward thinking law firm managers have been deploying a major upgrade to the legal profession. Traditional law could lose market share if (or when) global liberalization of the market accelerates. Hence, a different mindset is needed to achieve opportunities for NewLaw in frontier or emerging global markets. And new projects will occur to meet a new market based on internet rules.
While traditional law firms are setting strategies in delivering legal services under a business of law model, NewLaw has an opportunity to disrupt the market delivering new services. Here are some suggestions:
1. Disruptive Business Units. NewLaw is heavily based on the disruption theory of Clayton Christensen. Under that theory, firms well managed fail to adapt to disruptive changes. NewLaw is one of those changes. The proposed solution is to create a disruptive business unit to experiment with existing or potential market needs. Then, lessons from the unit or its operation could be integrated into the main business to counter-disrupt. In case of a law firm, traditional law firms could use emerging markets to create disruptive business units to help create changes to the client needs. Clients are going global, so needs are very alike across borders. While these types of projects needs assignment of resources and people, validated data will be needed to set strategy for global growth.
2. Practice Workshops at Law Schools. Law Schools are becoming closer to real life practice. The crisis has made many law firms to reduce training efforts for entry levels. So, training will be priceless and difficult to get for students and new graduates in the future. With that in mind, law schools should work with law firms and practitioners to develop a program where students can actually learn and make mistakes in a controlled environment. Real life practice adds emotional intelligence, stress management, business development and other skills, integrated with problems solving from a legal perspective. Law schools cannot graduate students without these skills anymore. It is irresponsible.
3. Business Legal Research. Traditional law firms have developed knowledge for a specific service called legal opinion. No doubt about it. At no time have management consulting companies and other research companies added business legal research services to their portfolio. Therefore, legal research focused on commercial opportunities would be integrated into specialist practice areas, marketing and business development efforts. Both type of services could end up as good markets for final clients, law firms and other interested parties, such as distributors, sales agents and marketers.
The Mexican legal market will be fueled by energy, telecom and other reforms during the next decades. A US $590 BnEric Chin: “2018 is the year Axiom may become the world’s largest legal services firm.” Then, Mexico is a natural market for NewLaw and Traditional Law to explore.
Does something of this ring a bell? I am generally available to discuss.