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NewLaw down under

11 April, 2014

. beatonbenchmarks. Law. LPO. Other professional services. Strategy

I come from a land down under

Where beer does flow and men chunder

Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?

You better run, you better take cover.

Men at Work, Down Under, 1981

These lyrics from Men at Work’s hit single propelled the Australian act into international stardom in the 1980s. Since the publication of George Beaton’s NewLaw New Rules book in December 2013, the #NewLaw hashtag has been buzzing in the twittersphere and capturing imaginations on the conference circuit.

The state of the legal profession is experiencing structural changes with adverse pressures from all five forces in Michael Porter terms. These forces are shaping an increasingly hostile environment for incumbents, the BigLaw business model law firms. NewLaw firms, while still in their early development stages, are proving to be viable substitutes for BigLaw in meeting many, but certainly not all, client needs.

This blog examines the development of NewLaw in the Australian corporate client market.

NewLaw from the land down under

The emergence of NewLaw in the Australia corporate client scene was kick-started by the foundation of Advent Lawyers and Balance Legal in Sydney and Perth, respectively in 2008.

Beaton_NewLaw in land down under

Our analysis of the main Australian NewLaw firms in the corporate arena reveals:

  • Most of the Australian NewLaw firms were founded in Melbourne.
  • The merged AdventBalance is the largest NewLaw firm by staff numbers (as shown on LinkedIn) and office footprint.
  • Keystone Law is the first overseas NewLaw entrant.
  • The most recent NewLaw member is Hive Legal.

Can’t you hear, can’t you hear NewLaw?

In conjunction with the Commonwealth Bank, Beaton Research + Consulting conducts a quarterly Legal Market Pulse study of the 50 largest law firms in Australia. In March 2014, 32 law firm leaders responded to the survey.

For the first time the respondents were asked if their respective firms had competed for work against NewLaw providers in the last 12 months. And if they had, against which of the Australian NewLaw firms?

Here is what these law firm leaders had to say (click to enlarge).

Beaton_Commonwealth Bank Legal Market Pulse Study_NewLaw

The study also reveals:

  • Eight of the largest law firms in Australia have competed against NewLaw firms.
  • AdventBalance, Bespoke Law and Plexus are the NewLaw firms most frequently mentioned.
  • Bespoke Law received the most mentions.

You better run, you better take cover

In Beaton Research + Consulting’s 2014 Annual Business and Professions Study, for the first time we asked 5,000 buyers and users of corporate and commercial legal services – i.e. clients  about NewLaw firm, AdventBalance.

Let’s have a look at what the Australian corporate market has to say about AdventBalance (click to enlarge).

 Beaton_ABPS 2014

Beaton Research + Consulting’s study reveals:

  • This year the study gathered views from 5,000 clients.
  • 15% of the 5,000 clients were aware of AdventBalance. In other words 750 clients are now aware of this 6 year-old NewLaw firm.
  • 99 clients would consider using AdventBalance, i.e. 13%.

While these numbers currently pale in comparison with the BigLaw establishment, the sheer number of corporate clients who are aware and would consider using NewLaw firms makes a great start for any substitute in a mature industry.

We have by no means arrived at a tipping point, we are still in the early days of NewLaw’s development. But we are reminded of Clayton Christensen’s ‘being able to predict when it happens is more complex than to predict it will happen’.


If you find this post of interest, you can read more on related topics here:

This post is a collaboration between our Senior Analyst, Eric Chin and Beaton Research + Consulting’s Project Manager, Jarek Dobrjanski.

One Response to NewLaw down under

Marcus says: 6 July, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Curious this article missed arguably the most significant one of them all – Nexus Law Group, launched a few months before Plexus in 2010 and is now Australia largest full service dispersed law firm with 17 lawyers


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