In April of 2013, Richard Granat (@) asked: Is Axiom Law a Law Firm? in a blogpost which appeared on his widely-read eLawering Blog. And Granat is well qualified to both ask and answer the question. Granat is both a virtual lawyer and a CEO and investor in services providers to the profession. Granat’s 2013 analysis of Axiom Law applies equally today to the global quasi-diaspora of NewLaw enterprises, including those in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Serious questions continue to be asked about NewLaw
Granat outlines some key questions that have been asked about NewLaw – and that continue to be asked about NewLaw in the Asia-Pacific Region. For example, are NewLaw law firms really law firms? Granat’s conclusion is that they are not, but points to the tendency for NewLaw Law firms (he cites Axiom) to avoid the question.
His analysis points to some very positive things NewLaw appears to have in it’s favor: “Is AxiomLaw a positive development for the legal profession? Who knows? General Counsel of major companies seem to think so.” But he also highlights one consideration that ought to give any NewLaw executive, investor, or client, pause: “It seems to me, however, that an in-house counsel assumes the risk of malpractice when they contract with Axiom.” Granat then suggests greater transparency and a localized requirement that NewLaw should be “subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct.”
So what can NewLaw do?
Apart from the pro’s and con’s of the arguments Granat outlines above (and these same concerns come up regularly in conversations among legal services sector professionals in the Asia-Pacific region) – what can NewLaw do about them? Well, Granat cites an effort by Axiom Law to influence the dialogue around NewLaw with a publication called ReThinkLaw. However, ReThinkLaw is not apparently published by Axiom itself, rather it’s a series of curated articles by other leading thinkers in legal services globally, around issues not necessarily germane to NewLaw. And I’m aware of no other proprietary effort by NewLaw to define itself in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Much is at stake
As has been widely reported, the Asia-Pacific legal market will double between 2013 and approximately 2022 or thereabout. C-Suite executives, including the General Counsel’s of corporations, are increasingly turning to the internet for news and information of relevance to them. Instead of letting others define it, NewLaw should actively and vigorously seek to define itself, via sophisticated, regularly produced articles on, ideally, a proprietary platform (e.g. a blog). By doing so, NewLaw can become more transparent, more understood, more able to be sold to a more educated general counsel, and less defensive in a market that’s likely to become more crowded by competitors in the future, not less. NewLaw should now actively seek to define itself before it’s competitors tip the balance against it. Much is at stake if it does not.