When it comes to NewLaw in Peru, Niubox is one of the pioneers. Here an interview with his founding partner Oscar Montezuma, where he shares with us how this unprecedented crisis is impacting his firm work.
Leaders League: How does the unprecedented coronavirus crisis impact your day-to-day work, and how different has the impact been, in your view, at traditional law firms?
Oscar Montezuma: We implemented many changes inspired by the principles of NewLaw since we opened. We replaced billable hour for flat fees (moving away from the "we sell time" model), replaced micromanagement for team empowerment, eliminated measurement of team performance on billable hours and replaced it with measuring client satisfaction and implemented strong flex and horizontal work policies. Last December we did a pilot of 15 days remote work and results exceeded expectations. This summer (January and February) we did four day weeks and it worked even better. We can safely say we had good training before the crisis. However, all of this would not be sustainable and remote work would have been tougher if it did not rely on a consistent purpose and set of cultural values taken to practice. The current crisis is putting the culture of law firms (or lack of it) to the test and questioning the traditional law firm business model. For traditional multiservice firms, this will be a huge challenge in terms of the agility and understanding new client needs.
As a firm with a client-centric model, what kind of measures have you implemented to help clients adjust to the new reality?
First, prioritizing our team, strengthening trust and optimism in a moment of huge uncertainty. Secondly, becoming closer to our clients than ever, using technology but more importantly empathy. Instead of launching legalese filled tech-savvy webinars we decided it was more important to listen to our clients first, understand their needs and provide them with a tailor-made solution. I believe it is impossible to be client-centric if you are not team-centric first.
Once this crisis is behind us, what will the new legal landscape look like? What aspects will have to change when it comes to law firms and the services they provide?
The outcome is uncertain but I would like and expect radical changes in the delivery of legal services in the aftermath of Covid-19 such as:
- Law firms with a purpose and strong cultural and human values.
- New actors such as NewLaw firms, alternative legal service providers and legaltech startups taking the starring role.
- More ultra specialized and interdisciplinary law firms than traditional multiservice law firms.
- Firms killing the billable hour model and embracing value pricing or alternative pricing schemes.
- Law firms embracing disruptive technologies.
- New positions and opportunities for lawyers in legal operations, legal project management and legal design.