Stray Thoughts on BigLaw Versus NewLaw

There’s been a lot of chatter recently about the relative prospects of traditional law firms (“BigLaw”) and competitors such as Axiom (“NewLaw”). Much of that discussion was prompted by this post by George Beaton, an Australian consultant.

It’s a discussion that I’ve had no trouble steering clear of. That’s because as I see it, there’s nothing much to choose between BigLaw and NewLaw when it comes to contract drafting. I’ve had brief discussions with a couple of members of the NewLaw contingent, and they made it clear that they have no interest in shifting from a copy-and-paste world to document assembly.

So meet the NewLaw! Same as the BigLaw!

And that’s why, just with respect to contract drafting, I’m able to take issue with the follow statement by Bruce MacEwen in this post:

I see two thoroughly opposed, but quite consistent, trends: A flight to quality and a flight to value. No single law firm can durably respond to both sets of client demand, which means many who aren’t already at one pole or the other will need to choose, and to change.

With the economies of scale achievable through document assembly, you can offer top quality and great value to many.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

5 thoughts on “Stray Thoughts on BigLaw Versus NewLaw”

  1. If document assembly is a no-brainer, is the widespread non-adoption of it caused by widespread lack of brains, or is there a rational case against it?

  2. False dichotomy. Law firms can work to a business model that achieves both quality and value. The lack of interest in improving drafting is a state of mind, not a business model, and can be found in all types of firm.

  3. I agree, Ken. There’s enough slack in law firm operations that increases in both quality and value could be achieved for quite some time.

  4. Ken,, which is as ‘NewLaw’ as any, is a prolific user of document assembly (ContractExpress). I too struggled with Bruce’s distinction between value and quality.

  5. I disagree with MacEwen as well and I think Brian sums it up correctly. Document assembly is only one piece of the quality/value puzzle. Legal project management is another. And what is the effect of the billable hour on solving the quality/value puzzle?


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