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Best Virtual Law Firms / ‘Dispersed’ Firms with Self-Employed / Freelance Solicitors

In today’s rapidly evolving legal services market, there is a growing number of lawyers (around 1,000 as at 2018) who are choosing not to be confined to employment with one standard, traditional law firm, but instead to be self-employed, practising under the umbrella of a ‘virtual’ or ‘dispersed’ law firm, with all the flexibility, freedom and financial rewards that go with it. The businesses providing such an offering usually provide the following for the freelance lawyers who choose to work at them:-

  • legal case management system
  • legal accounts / cashroom systems
  • a fee-sharing arrangement (the percentages of which vary between firms)
  • legal marketing support
  • help with compliance and risk management
  • administrative support

With fewer overheads than the traditional law firm, this arrangement allows for tailored legal services to be provided to clients at competitive prices.

Notably, the term ‘virtual’ is slightly misleading as many law firms across the UK are now effectively operating virtually to some extent. With the benefits of modern Internet technology, today’s modern lawyer can really work virtually from anywhere – hence the preference for the term ‘dispersed’ law firms (as some law tech commentators such as Delia Venables have pointed out – see Delia’s 2016 article ‘The Dispersed Law Firm’ in the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers here).

Some of the Top Virtual / Dispersed Law Firms in the UK

The following are some of the best such ‘virtual’ / dispersed law firms in the UK:-

Keystone “A cutting-edge firm that combines the latest technology with modern working practices, Keystone competes with some of the country’s leading conventional law firms.”

gunnercooke “We’ve taken away lots of the constraints that prevent lawyers from giving a brilliant client service and we’ve replaced them with a model that attracts the best legal talent to join us, giving them the freedom to invest fully into their client relationships.”

Scott-Moncrieff (‘ScoMo’) “Scott-Moncrieff was one of the world’s first ‘virtual law firms’, giving lawyers the freedom to practise when and as they want, with the ability to maintain or improve their earning power.”; “Scott-Moncrieff freelance lawyers keep a full 70% of what they bill from the outset.”

Setfords Solicitors “Our innovative and creative ways of operating mean our lawyers have the support and flexibility to deliver the dedicated, personal service our clients need at a price they can afford.”

Further Reading on Virtual / Dispersed Law Firms in the UK

The following articles provide useful insights into the benefits of such firms:-

The rise of the virtual lawyer: Why virtual law firms are replacing traditional practices via Wolters Kluwer, 2018

“In conclusion, building a virtual firm in the cloud is a great alternative to a more traditional firm thanks to reduced overhead costs, increased agility, mobility, flexibility and time – enabling lawyers to run a more competitive firm and deliver quality service that meets client demands.”

The benefits of virtual law firms – from ScoMo’s Lucy Scott-Moncrieff

““It’s important for people to have the flexibility to lead their life outside work, whether that’s spending time with family or pursuing worthwhile causes.” Scomo’s rising success over the past decade is indicative of the rise of virtual firms – and representative, perhaps, of legal’s move into a more nomadic future.”

The virtual law firm three years on – Internet Newsletter for Lawyers by Chris Hadrill of Redmans Solicitors, 2017.

“Redmans has undergone a steep learning curve in the adaptation to the virtual law firm business model but it has grown and strengthened, having cemented the business in various key locations and expanded to compete in other locations.”

Law firms of the future—virtual lawyers By Ioan Marc Jones via LexisNexis Future of Law, 2017.

“According to new research, there are now over 800 lawyers working for ‘virtual’ law firms in the UK. Advances in technology has paved the way for so-called ‘virtual lawyers’, a group of self-employed lawyers harnessing remote IT access and flexible working hours to provide competitive fee arrangements to clients. We speak to a range of legal experts about the advent of the ‘virtual lawyer’ and what impact this might have on the legal market.”

The rise of virtual and dispersed law firms By Matthew Johns of CenturyLink, 2017.

“As many of the magic circle firms continue to expand and “big law” gets even bigger, high street firms are struggling in an increasingly competitive market, pincered between virtual and dispersed firms which can offer lower prices due to fewer overheads, and the digital disruptors of the DIY legal technology market.”

How To: run a ‘virtual firm’ – Law Society Gazette by Guy Setford, 2013.

“In truth, many aspects of the conventional law firm are absent in the dispersed firm, but then that is the whole idea. A dispersed law firm uses technology and modern working practices to drive efficiencies and reduce overheads, while ensuring that all the positive elements of a conventional law firm remain firmly in place.”

If you have any insights you’d like to share regarding virtual / dispersed legal practices in the UK please do get in touch here.

WardBlawg

WardBlawg

Legal Blogger at WardBlawg
+Gavin Ward is the founder of WardBlawg, Director of YouBlawg Limited and Operations Director at Moore Legal Technology Limited, specialising in helping law firms, lawyers and businesses grow their businesses online and aiming to help get great legal content published and shared across the web. Gavin created this law blog or ‘blawg’ to aim to contribute useful updates, thoughts and advice to help law firms, businesses and the legal profession in the UK and across the world succeed both online and offline.
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