Profession ‘Uber-ising’, online lawyer says

by Samantha Woodhill01 Aug 2016
The days of dressing nicely to see your family solicitor are close to over, according to Christchurch lawyer and founder of Online Lawyers NZ, John Shingleton.
The former managing partner of a mid-sized firm, Shingleton doesn’t think the traditional model will attract the millennial generation, saying the cloud model will eventually be able to undercut the rest of the profession.
“For a long time as lawyers we’ve had a privileged position.  I can remember my parents – to go and see the solicitor meant, dress up nicely, and go see the solicitor in the office,” Shingleton told Stuff.
“But the sense I get particularly with the millennial generation is, it doesn’t was with them anymore.  They want a different value proposition.
“I suppose I had a Richard Branson moment where I thought there might be another way of doing it.”
Meeting clients in shared office spaces or in cafes, the firm boasts low overheads, without the need for an office and support staff.
“By and large people are comfortable with that,” he said.
“They’re all Uber-ised now.”
Shingleton said he began to question the way the profession operates after countless comparisons to other professions.
“Once you’ve heard the jokes many times, you start detecting an undercurrent and the message that was being sent to me by friends and clients was, ‘you guys are not really following what the rest of the world is doing in delivery more effective, streamlined services’.”
Specialising in commercial, employment and health and safety law, Shingleton outsources to colleagues on issues outside of his expertise, with the intent of growing his network of like-minded lawyers nationally.
“I’ve estimated I’m able to offer the same quality that I offered at a senior partner in a traditional law firm at about 15% less,” he said.
“The way we are working will mean that quality legal services will be more affordable, particularly for small to medium sized businesses, who are regularly charged at the same rate as large organisations.”