Growing demand for lawyers without ties - or ties
May 3, 2019
May 2, 2019 — 11.00pm
Lawyers On Demand has added another 100 practitioners to its books with the acquisition of fellow new law upstart Lexvoco, in another sign of the growing market for “freelance" lawyers. LOD co-founder Ken Jagger, a former partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, said that with 700 lawyers globally – half in Australia and New Zealand – it could now play a “scale game”. “We proudly say we are a law firm, we just do things differently’’ ... Lawyers On Demand's Ken Jagger and Anthony Wright. Nick Moir
“The bigger you are, the more lawyers you can get, the bigger transactions you can support, the bigger the clients you can support," Mr Jagger said. “Our clients are the sorts of clients that go to Allen & Overy and Freehills, and we wanted to be able to support them across multiple jurisdictions. Advertisement
“We [Advent Balance] had Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore and they [Lawyers On Demand] had the UK, so that was pretty good tie-up – and we kept their name. “Since then we have added Germany and the UAE and we are looking to enter the US." 'We just do things differently'
Lexvoco was founded in 2014 by Anthony Wright, who had previously worked with global and ASX 100 companies, including Transpacific Industries and the PGA Tour. Part of the attraction for Mr Jagger was the software Lexvoco had developed, including a data analytics app. It recently formed a partnership with Microsoft to work on solutions for some of its larger clients. “We proudly say we are a law firm, we just do things differently,’’ said Mr Wright. The majority of LOD and Lexvoco clients have been in-house legal teams, who look to them for additional support for work ranging from contracts to mergers and acquisitions. About 10 per cent of the business has been filling gaps at law firms. Advertisement
Mr Jagger said that a lot of LOD's work in Sydney was for the large banks, while in Perth there was a lot of resources work. He said the typical LOD lawyer was a large-law-firm-trained senior associate, with an average of 12 years' work as a practitioner. Most were employed on fixed-term contracts. “It's not an Uber, casualised work force at all." The rise of the freelance lawyer has been reinforced by many leading firms setting up their own agencies, which typically use former staffers who have either retired or can’t commit to a full-time workload. Corrs Chambers Westgarth has Orbit, Allens has Adapt and Allen & Overy has Peerpoint. Even mid-tier firms are getting in on the act, with Perth-based Jackson McDonald establishing Jacmac+. Mr Wright said the large number of “unhappy lawyers” at law firms was good for business. “We can provide them with a really rewarding corporate in-house legal career, but with a lot more flexibility.”