~ by Stephen Wingate-Pearse
I recently came across a body of research, commissioned by the South African Law Society, and conducted by Lexis Nexis, the results of which I found fascinating. Whilst the research was done in 2016, it is my considered opinion that the outcomes are that much more relevant in the current lexicon.
The research established a genuinely reflective “picture” in terms of inter aliageographical, race, earnings and gender demographics for the profession. In brief, most lawyers operate within small firms or sole practitioners – the vast majority(72%) of the 12 373 law firms in South Africa are made up of organisations that employ one to ten staff including professionals and support staff. Of the 72%, 47% is made up of sole practitioners! Coupled with the information that the majority of lawyers bill less than R1 000 per hour, – this is a startling finding indeed!It appears that most lawyers are putting in a great deal of work, with non-concomitant rewards.
Additionally, it appears that the industry has thoroughly embraced technology to further their growth trajectories. This is illustrated by 37% of respondents, indicating that either a director or equity partner conducts their own research with 91% of research done online, with Google cited as the primary investigative tool. Still in keeping with technology, most firms were committed to investing in marketing activities, citing social media as a marketing imperative, together with networking opportunities. Online services were also listed as a priority for many legal practices. Most telling, is that most legal practitioners, do not outsource their marketing and administrative processes, electing instead to fulfill these functions internally.
My take out of these findings is this:; we have mostly-overworked practitioners that are experiencing a disparate decrease in billings; these self-same lawyers are conducting their own administration and research via online portals; in order to keep costs down, they choose to retain marketing, administration and compliance functions in-house; most lawyers have identified marketing, networking opportunities, social media and online services as vital to their continued expansion plans.
Which leads me to believe that there is a very good case to be made FOR outsourcing of services, and why our Linklawyer business model is one which makes so much sense for new, sole and small practices. As an organisation, Linklawyer is looking to assist practitioners in building sustainable practices, through collaborative processes. As such, the group offers its members legal-specific shared office space and staff such as receptionists, bookkeepers and candidate attorneys which removes overhead costs; additionally, members have access to a leading global practice management application and leading digital and PR marketing services; most importantly, Linklawyer’s innovative origination model guarantees that clients always remain that of the originator, and an origination is paid in perpetuity when non-core work is referred to other members. This system is supported by cutting-edge technology which enables members to track work done, as well fees written and collected for work done via other members. This model effectively creates an asset which can either be relied upon to deliver a passive income or sold to another member upon retirement.
Which essentially frees lawyers up to do what they do best – practicing law instead of admin. Outsourcing non-core functions to external suppliers has the positive knock-on effects of a vastly improved work-life balance and the ability to increase earnings exponentially.
All of which makes for happy lawyers. For more information on this advanced model, go to www.linklawyer.co.za and take a leap into the 21st century.
About the Author: With a background in IT and after many years in Law, Linklawyer’s founder realised that the future of the profession, and indeed his passion, lay not in locking practitioners into large firms but in linking independent practitioners, via smart practice management technology and a mutually beneficial financial model. Having tried and tested virtually every model as well as local and global legal practice management technology, the Linklawyer model was developed to be unique, scalable, robust and sustainable.