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Addleshaws lays out future vision: fewer lawyers, fewer firms, new business models


2020: a very different legal market to today’s

The legal market of 2020 will have 25% fewer lawyers and 20% fewer firms, with new business models and disruptive legal technologies sitting at the core of the provision of legal services, leading firm Addleshaw Goddard has predicted.

Rather than billing hours, the firm forecast that it will be selling solutions and products for fixed, annual or product prices.

Having successfully created its 100-strong transaction services team, with paralegals handling routine work, Addleshaws will also shortly launch its own “flexible resource pool” – a group of freelance lawyers that can advise clients on lower-level work at a cheaper price than the main firm – Legal Futures can reveal.

It is part of the firm’s ‘Law rethought’ programme that aims to make Addleshaws the first major firm to embrace the kind of change that the likes of Professor Richard Susskind expect to see in the corporate legal market in the coming years in response to the ‘more for less’ challenge. In the process the firm expects to become “a different legal business”.

By 2020, the firm said, there will be “a massive pool of unaligned talent called on when required by different providers”, and law firms will collaborate with each other and other third-party providers to deliver advice – as it is, collaboration has been a feature of 12 panel reviews this year.

Legal resources will be readily available online and clients will have smaller and more focused panels, with 30% of legal advice “standardised”. There are likely to be different structures for management and reward.

The transaction services team was Addleshaw’s first responses to these challenges, followed by an exercise to map all of its core legal services to ensure clients receive the best possible method of delivery.

It has also launched products, such as Control, around funding litigation and Torchlight, a web-based solution which helps clients keep track of future legal and regulatory developments in the financial services sector.

Further developments in the offing include a delivery hub, consultancy services – such as to help clients map their own processes – legal project management, legal process analysis, the flexible resource pool, new pricing models, and a new knowledge offering.

Partner Andrew Chamberlain, the head of client delivery, told Legal Futures that he considered Addleshaws “significantly ahead” of other firms, which are coming up with “tactical or strategic responses” to the challenges they face, but are not willing to rethink the way they do business, and the value and service they provide to clients.

“I think the market is in need of fundamental transformation and it will happen,” he said.

Legal Futures will next month showcase those who are shaping the legal market of 2020 in our London conference 2020 Vision. Click here [2] for more details.