Analysts have reported that virtual law firms may play a huge role in the future of the legal sector, with coronavirus restrictions fuelling more and more lawyers to become consultant solicitors. The report from investment bank Arden Partners Pllc estimates that one-third of all UK solicitors could be working under a consultancy model within five years. The report also suggests that virtual law firms could be as disruptive to the current legal market as Specsavers and Vision Express have been to High Street opticians.
Of course, the pandemic has acted as an important catalyst for this change, demonstrating that working from home is possible – and for many – preferable to the traditional office environment An increasing number of lawyers have begun to question what they want their future working life to look like, and virtual firms are in ‘pole position’ to take advantage of this according to the report.
How does a virtual law firm work?
Under a consultancy model, freelance lawyers at the firm have a central platform and brand, and also benefit from management and technology services. Consultant lawyers keep a proportion of their fees, and give a percentage to the firm to allow them to utilise the firm’s infrastructure. Typically, lawyers retain around 70% of their fees, which means they often earn more than working in a traditional firm.
How a virtual firm can allow you to do your best work
One of the biggest advantages to joining a virtual firm is that it allows you to focus on doing what you do best. Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said:
“First, many lawyers just want to practise law and don’t want the administrative and managerial responsibility of the partnership – but also they don’t want to be employees any more.”
She goes on to discuss how virtual firms are attractive for fee-earners who just want to be great lawyers without investing in their own firm or becoming involved in practice management. She said:
“They’re happy because they can focus on practising the law and their salaries are often higher than they would find in traditional firms as a result.”
In addition, the ability to work to your own schedule, but also your clients’ schedules is essential too. At Scott-Moncrieff, lawyers are in control of how much they work, when they work, and the type of work they take on.
“Some consultants choose to work full-time for us and take on fairly substantial pieces of work, others work more part-time, and some work for other firms as well as us.”
Reduced overheads under consultancy models also mean competitive pricing. Fee earners are making more money but can also charge their clients less and offer a more tailored service.