In our first update we banged on about the core ideas and drivers behind the formation of Unlike Minds - ie. enabling independent lawyers to grow their businesses without eventually morphing into the law firms we all left behind in the first place.
Unlike Minds is not simply a network. There are plenty of networks out there already, and we know independent lawyers have limited bandwidth for "networking" anyway. The difference with Unlike Minds is the real activity (engagement) that occurs between Unlike Minds members on a consistent basis.
This is already happening. As you may know Unlike Minds was formed by Kinetic Venture Advisory, Corvus Group, LL Gold, Legalite (all Melbourne), and Pearce IP (Sydney). The level of cross-engagement we have seen in only a couple of months has been significant - from engagements for specialist advice, requests to act as the opposing lawyer, file "babysitting", and so on.
Even more interesting, our clients are as excited as us about the model. Giving our clients the option of continuing to use their "go to" independent lawyer - no matter how niche, complex or time-consuming a matter becomes (within reason), is seen as a genuine alternative to having to engage with the bureaucracy and cost of the larger firms. This is something we are currently exploring further through a survey of GC's, the results of which we will report at our Mini-Launch below.
Once we are live, Unlike Minds will operate through what is essentially a sub-contracting model. For example, if an IP specialist is asked by their client for advice on a workplace relations matter, the IP specialist herself can engage the WR to provide the advice (rather than refer it across), and the WR lawyer pre-agrees to do the work at a set-discount to their usual rate (say, somewhere between 10-30%). The IP specialist then charges 100% of the WR lawyers rate to the client (with appropriate disclosure). This model achieves a number of things:
1. IP lawyer retains the key relationship with the client
2. The client does not have to engage another vendor/lawyer, has access to specialist advice, and continues to receive the benefits of engaging independent lawyers
3. IP lawyer achieves a small return for finding the work
4. WR lawyer accesses work without significant investment in business development
We recognise the above challenges the traditional model of "referring" work to other lawyers on the principle of "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours", but we think the traditional model is less and less relevant in a world where independent specialists will become far more prevalent.
We do believe, if we get this right, that over time independent lawyers can start to challenge mid to larger firms for the complex, high-fee work that traditionally heads their way.
In the meantime, stay tuned for further updates over the next few weeks.