Unlocking Your Legal Career Potential Part 1 | The Power of Autonomy 

FEB 12, 2024 | PRACTUS LLP

Unlocking Your Legal Career Potential Part 1 | The Power of Autonomy 

Authored by Molly Aspan, Christopher J. Lange

Innovation and technology are rarely the first words that come to mind when attorneys think about their careers. Many have images of traditional, big-city conference rooms and wearing formal suits to a high-rise office (and non-lawyers tend to think about the extremely high bills that comes with those things). At least… that’s what people used to think.  

We’re happy to say the future of the practice of law has arrived, giving way to new potential for legal careers and client access to top-tier services. This 3-part series dives deeper into how virtual law firms are opening new paths for attorney success through autonomy, the alignment of financial incentives, and the removal of geographical barriers—along with how the clients benefit from those same things. Let’s dive into the series with Part 1: the power of autonomy and how it’s changing the way attorneys work with their clients.  

The Rise of Modern Law Firms 

Today, the legal industry is in the middle of a massive transformation — one that prioritizes the relationship between the attorney and the client and gives lawyers the growth potential of an entrepreneurial platform. This transformation is largely due to modern law firms that shatter the one-size-fits-all traditional law firm model by implementing remote working environments and individualized legal representation that is being empowered and enhanced by new technologies. These firms create the platform for attorneys and clients to connect regardless of geo-location by embracing emerging technologies and giving lawyers the autonomy they need to unlock their legal career potential.  

“Most innovation involves doing the things we do every day a little bit better rather than creating something completely new and different.”   

Darin Bifani

Embracing the innovative side of the law doesn’t mean re-inventing the wheel. It involves taking the best of traditional legal practice while adding modern upgrades that improve relationships between attorneys and clients. Modern law firms provide top-tier legal services by attorneys at the partner level who have honed their craft for years just as a traditional firm would. The concept of bringing innovation to legal practices is doing things a little bit better every day which turns into an exponentially improved experience for both attorneys and clients.  

Implementing new technologies and providing autonomy to experienced partner-level attorneys creates seamless connections with clients and partners from around the world, collaboration with highly-skilled attorneys in various locations, and individualized fee arrangements that make sense. Not only can attorneys expand their reach to new clients and embark upon joint engagements (increasing the potential of their legal careers), but clients also have access to legal services that might have otherwise been unattainable due to availability of attorneys, location, or average hourly rates in their area.  

The Power of Autonomy 

The virtual law firm model offers a new trajectory for attorneys’ legal careers. Historically, lawyers had limited options when it came to reaching the pinnacle of private practice: becoming partner in a traditional AmLaw 200 firm, being hired as in-house counsel, or starting their own firm. Each option has its pros and cons, and all are admirable paths.  

However, when attorneys with a growth mindset and innovative thinking want to unlock their legal careers, it can feel like they’re stuck choosing between the autonomy of starting their own small practice or fighting through the bureaucracy to achieve success at a large firm. Virtual law firms offer a new career path: one where attorneys are in control of their legal practice yet have the resources and collaboration opportunities of a more traditional firm.  

Autonomy is the key to unlocking the benefits of these modern firms. At its core, this autonomy is simply trusting that attorneys know how to best represent their clients and run their law practice. At Practus, our attorneys (within the bounds of conflicts and ethical rules) are in control of: 

  • The clients they represent 
    • Choosing who you represent results in enjoying your clients and the client matters you work on each day 
  • Fee arrangements with clients  
    • There is no one-size-fits-all approach to billing. Some clients prefer a flat fee,; others prefer hourly rates,; and some might opt for a contingency arrangement. You have the autonomy to choose what works best for you and your client, which is often a great way to individualize your legal services to potential clients (more on this in part 2). 
  • Where they work 
    • We don’t maintain a centralized office, so attorneys choose the working environment that works best for them. You can work from your home office, or you can have an office space/office share building to meet with clients in person. Many attorneys opt to travel to their clients for in-person meetings as well, which can have the added benefit of a more comprehensive understanding of your client’s needs.  
  • The hours they work 
    • Requiring attorneys to be in a specific location for a specific amount of time doesn’t equal better quality representation. At this stage of your legal career, you know when you’re most productive and the critical hours you need to speak with your clients.  
  • Hiring additional support for their law practice 
    • Rather than assigning you with a set number of staff members (and allocating the overhead expense against your earnings), you choose if you need to hire or share a paralegal, associate, legal secretary, etc. You know best when you need additional help within your legal practice, which is why you have the autonomy to hire a support team as your book of business grows. This helps you operate within a scalability that’s under your control and often means you can provide clients with more competitive rates.  
  • Joint engagements and referrals 
    • Practus has partners in 20+ practice areas across 19+ states in the US, which means that when your clients need a multiple-attorney legal team, representation in a different state, or help with issues outside your practice area, you’re able to confidently refer them to a fellow lawyer at the firm. 

The transition to a modern law firm that encourages autonomy of experienced attorneys elevates the potential for each attorney’s legal practice. Partner-level attorneys can offer legal services that more closely align with their clients’ unique needs while retaining the potential for growth. Think of it as combining the benefits of a highly individualized boutique or solo firm with growth potential and scalability of a larger firm… add in some legal technology and an experienced support team to keep everything running smoothly, and you have the future of the practice of law! 

Subscribe to our email list below to be the first to hear when Part 2 of this series, focusing on aligning financial incentives for increased success, is published.  

The Authors
Molly Aspan
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Christopher J. Lange
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Practus, LLP provides this information as a service to clients and others for educational purposes only. It should not be construed or relied on as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking advice from professional advisers.

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