Our paper on distributed law firms
By Faith Sing and Jonathan Tan
Our paper on “The Distributed Law Firm – A Model for Singapore Law Firms in a Next Normal World” has been published as part of the Law Society of Singapore’s research papers for the Colloquium on Law Practices and the Future of Work held in May 2020. The full paper is available here.1
We have been a “distributed law firm” for a while before COVID-19 made working-from-home (WFH) a necessity for all law firms.
In our paper, we imagined ways in which we might address the drawbacks and magnify the advantages of WFH. We make a case for WFH for law firms forever based on the following:
- Cost structures and business models of law firms may change with getting better at WFH and all law firms will have to respond to this change to stay competitive. Automation and the broader innovation agenda will accentuate the need to try harder to make it work.
- Clients are likely to get used to WFH practices for themselves and the people they do business. This reduces any stigma and potentially presents deeper bonding opportunities.
- Global trade and cross-border investments will shrink in favour of goods and services sourced locally. Good WFH practices are required to ensure we do not skip a beat even while we might have to be based overseas for extended periods.
- An aging society and profession means more flexible ways to mould jobs to fit different lifestyles will give the innovative law firm an advantage with addressing the productivity cliff and contribute to working stronger for longer.
- We could do our part to reduce climate change by just staying put more often. We might do this by reducing the need for more office buildings, transport and air-conditioning.
Our paper also looked more closely at the anecdotes coming out of the COVID-19 work-from-home experience as well as experience past. We then weaved in how we deal with the disadvantages and advantages noted by others. This was summarised in our previous article on the 5 things we do to make working-from-home work for us.
Finally, our hunch is that a distributed law firm model is essential to being able to offer our retainer counsel option. WFH keeps our cost structure similar to that for in-house counsel. It also means we are more responsive because we can work just about anywhere at just about any time.
Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss how we may help you.
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1 This paper was first published in The Law Society of Singapore’s Legal Profession Research Portal on 28 August 2020.
fsLAW is a boutique business law firm group providing legal solutions and advocacy for clients in the Asia Pacific region from Singapore. We provide our services through retainers as well as in the traditional way of an hourly or daily rate or fixed-quote for projects.