This article was written by John Hyde for the Law Gazette and can be found at: https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/over-1000-lawyers-embrace-remote-working-gig-economy/5068266.article
More than 1,000 lawyers in the UK now work remotely in practices outside the traditional firm environment, new figures suggest.
Research by accountants and business advisory group Hazlewoods showed the number of lawyers working for so-called ‘platform’ firms has increased 29% to 1,035.
The number is still a fraction of the 140,000 practising solicitors in England and Wales, but there does appear to be a growing trend for lawyers to take control of how they work and be more entrepreneurial.
Businesses such as Keystone Law, Excello and gunnercooke have created models where lawyers may be self-employed, work remotely and use a back office and other shared services.
Commentators say the offer of working ‘flexi-time’ helps individuals avoid the long-hours culture of the legal profession and keep a higher percentage of the fees they charge.
Other factors behind the growth of the remote firm may be parents seeking flexible ways of working and more lawyers opting out of the daily commute.Jon Cartwright, partner at Hazlewoods, said: ‘The continued growth of platform law firms reflects the enthusiasm in the legal sector to adapt to new ways of working. It is also part of broader trend among lawyers to be more entrepreneurial, to strike out on their own. Some because they want to do things their way, some because they feel big law firms involve too much politics, and others because they feel they are not getting enough out of the fees they earn.’
Cartwright also pointed out investors have started to look at the growth opportunities of the model, with Keystone becoming the first firm of its kind to float on the London Stock Exchange last year.
In September, the firm reported that 250 people had applied to join in the previous year, with 21 successful applicants on average every month in 2017/18.
It is interesting to see the Law Society put a number on the growing percentage of practising lawyers who are working outside of the remit of traditional law firm or in-house roles as contractors or as part of virtual law firms.
As the landscape of flexible lawyering begins to mature and become more competitive, we are increasingly finding lawyers who are unwilling to work in situations where they only get paid when the client has paid their platform provider.
Contax Law not only guarantees its contract lawyers their monthly assignment fee irrespective of whether the client has paid, but also sources quality, high paying work from a blue chip FTSE 100 client base, giving greater peace of mind to lawyers who choose to work in this way.
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