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The UK legal market continues to be a trailblazer for its robust, profitable legal profession that other jurisdictions seek to emulate. So is there anything the profession can learn from innovations and developments in other jurisdictions?
Tony Williams, principal at Jomati Consultants, who says innovation and lawyers is a contradiction in terms, comments that while the UK is an innovative legal sector, the one that was out there first is Australia because it was quite a small and consolidated market. He comments: ‘They were probably foremost in terms of client relationships, client development, key client programmes, and the use of information technology (although I’m going back 15 years).’ He says most others have caught them up and, indeed, overtaken them—now, there are a number of courts around the world that require only online filing of documentation, ‘which is almost standard in the markets now’.
Frank Maher, partner at Legal Risk, says that while the UK is ahead of the game in many respects, he also singles out Australia for its approach to risk management. He states:
Many of the statutory schemes are particularly proactive in assisting firms in improving their risk management. In Queensland, for example, they visit every firm to put on interactive workshops; they publish risk materials and templates for firms to use; and they have a programme of stress testing files in high risk areas.
What about the legal market in Asia? Williams says:
Places like Singapore are positioning themselves as very much the Asean legal centre. SIAC, their arbitration centre, is really pushing hard. You have an alignment between the legal profession and a government which is clearly pushing things, though whether that is exciting or innovative might be pushing the envelope.
‘But,’ adds Williams, ‘when you look at people trying lower cost centres, people trying project management or pricing plans—lots of that is happening here’.
Technology is the great facilitator and the means of much of the innovation that is taking place within the international legal sector. Whether it’s the New Zealand Courts’ recent foray into Twitter, or rep
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