As Ireland’s leading Alternative Legal Solutions provider, we thought it might be best to clarify what exactly we mean when we talk about disrupting the legal market.
For our clients (inhouse legal departments of large companies and public sector bodies) the value we offer is clear. We reduce their spend on legal costs by over 50% and carve out time consuming legal process work to free them up to work on higher-value, strategic legal work.
However, the question we want to address with this article is: does this disruption come at a cost to law firms?
The answer, interestingly, is neither yes nor no.
Johnson Hana is a friend to law firms
Johnson Hana has a wonderful, mutually beneficial relationship with many forward-thinking law firms that see the benefit in focusing their energies on bespoke legal advice, and leaving the volume heavy process work to us.
We have partnered with many law firms who are working on: complex litigation cases, regulatory investigations, M&A transactions, or large-scale conveyancing projects.
As an example, we are currently working with a medium-sized Irish law firm (with under 200 enrolled solicitors) to manage the discovery work pertaining to a litigation case involving a large government agency. The highly complex litigation has original datasets in the hundreds of millions.
So, a team of Johnson Hana discovery experts were deployed to provide an “experts and technology” solution. This involved utilising our high-end AI-powered eDiscovery software solution in combination with a select team of expert lawyers.
This project has gone, and is going, incredibly well for all parties involved. The client is delighted because their legal costs are significantly reduced, they now receive daily progress reports, and the project management focus has put structure around what could have been an unwieldy process.
At the same time the team at the law firm are freed from the arduous discovery work and therefore able to focus on the higher-value strategic advice required for the litigation.
What are law firms saying about Johnson Hana?
After partnering with Johnson Hana on a variety of complex litigation processes for government agencies and large corporates, Joe O’Malley, Partner at Hayes Solicitors said:
“The Johnson Hana service offering addresses a gap in the Irish legal market. They can be relied upon to support large-scale discovery review processes as part of complex litigation matters.”
“Partnering with Johnson Hana meant that we could direct our attention to the strategic elements of our case safe in the knowledge that the document review was being undertaken to a high standard.”Joe O’Malley, Partner at Hayes Solicitors
So, is Johnson Hana always a friend to law firms?
In short, no.
There are still law firms, typically those in the highest tier with the biggest slice of the pie, who are unhappy with what we’re doing. And we’re ok with that.
We’re aligned with our clients, who are relieved that they have an option that means they don’t have to pay legal advisory rates for legal process work.
Additionally, they benefit from the ‘right fit’ solution which brings the necessary project management and technology focus and expertise to process work, which law firms cannot provide in the same way.
Our clients are generally lawyers, and many of them have come from the same firms that are now worried about Johnson Hana’s impact on their ability to charge high fees for work that isn’t legal advice.
Our clients can see that the model that we’re offering is the future. It’s already well established in other jurisdictions such as the U.S. and U.K., and the local market in Ireland is quickly waking up to it too.
We’re aware that this disrupts the model for some traditional law firms who want to focus on maximising all revenue from clients, and we are unapologetic about that.
To put it succinctly, Johnson Hana is friend to forward-thinking law firms who are keen to focus on what they do best, but foe to law firms who seek to penalise their own clients with inflexible fee structures, regardless of the work being carried out.
Each party focusing on what it does best
We believe that law firms do a fantastic job of legal advice. It’s what they’re set up to do best and they do it very, very well.
But legal process work is a different beast. To continue our example of discovery, it’s not a problem that can be solved by the lawyer with the best knowledge and insight delivering an inspiring solution.
It’s a process. A process of going through documents by their hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands. And to tackle that, you need a different approach.
We use carefully mapped project management methodologies, innovative legal technologies, and expert lawyers to accelerate legal process work. We do this while ensuring that key metric reporting gives our clients total project visibility.
We can manage legal process work better than law firms because it’s what we’re set up to do. It’s our core focus so we can deliver it to a higher standard, at a lower cost.
Therefore the project works best when each party focuses on what it does best. The client is the client, the law firm gives legal advice, and we handle the procedural elements.
What does this mean for the future of legal work?
At Johnson Hana, we often talk about how we’re disrupting the legal market, because we are. But the fact is that the legal industry was already being disrupted from all sides, by technology, by offshoring, and not least by a global pandemic that has upended every industry!
Therefore, it is probably more accurate to describe ourselves as the solution to a disrupted market, rather than simply a disruptor ourselves.
Companies all over the world are facing increasing pressure to lower costs, and while this pressure has always fallen to the C-Suite, general counsel are now feeling it too.
For law firms, this means stepping up and looking at how services are delivered. We are ideally placed for those forward-thinking firms that can then present lower costs to clients by partnering with Johnson Hana.
This also means the democratisation of the legal industry, as the medium sized law firms can now compete on equal footing with larger firms when tendering.
Making the legal industry work better, for everyone
We feel that all of this benefits everyone, and is our way of making a positive impact.
As stated at our inception, our vision is to transform the legal industry so that it works better, for everyone.
To us, this means everyone working on what they do best, in the way that suits them. Our consultants on projects generally do in the region of 20-25 hour weeks for our clients, this frees the rest of their time for other personal or professional activities. This shouldn’t be revolutionary, but in the legal world, it is.
Previously, some of the best lawyers in private practice would be squeezed out because they were unable to commit to the famously long-hours culture of many law firms. Johnson Hana now gives them an alternative choice.
But this isn’t only about hours. It’s about the way we deliver services and using modern approaches to solve the problems of modern lawyers.
What that means is that, while we might be foe to some law firms who feel their client revenue is under threat, we’re friend to those forward-thinking law firms who are freed to focus on the bespoke, advisory work they do best.
In fact, we’re more than friend to those firms, we’re a partner.