Yes, lawyers are conservative. Yes, they're slow to respond to social change. And yes, they're by and large technophobic (ask any lawyer you meet about venerable RSS and watch their incomprehension).
Some innovate. Clearspire, a firm in DC, if it can be said to have a location, is one of the innovators, and a firm worth taking a look at. It's almost tedious to count the ways in which Clearspire differs from Rumble, Bump & Stiltskin, but the Economist does its usual good job of summarizing matters. These are three of the highspots:
- No billable hour. Instead:
Clearspire offers cost estimates for each phase of a legal job. Employees who underestimate how long it will take cannot simply jack up the bill—they must take the hit themselves. But if a lawyer finishes his work faster than promised, he gets a third of the savings. The client also gets a third, as does Clearspire.
- No central physical office, but regional centres and a powerful "best-in-class enterprise IT platform" [Clearspire] allows lawyers to collaborate and work from anywhere with clients located anywhere, and allows clients access to information crucial to them.
- A corporate separation (necessary in the US) between practicing lawyers, who are employees, and a business structure that brings in business, meaning that clients aren't paying for partners who do that but may not be contributing much to the solution of their problems.
Roam around their (unconventional) website to get a fuller picture. Or take a look at their promotional video below:
A final, and perhaps irrelevant thought: while I'm not an inordinate fan of law firm names that rely on partner names, I'm not a fan either of the "Clearspire" name. To me it sounds as if it were dreamed up by some ad agency after numerous focus groups… "clear" and "aspire" are too evident, too tendentious for me, at least.