In 2009, a virtual law firm named Clearspire emerged onto the legal scene with the plan to provide clients an alternative to BigLaw. Clearspire touted high-end attorneys at lower hourly rates by eliminating physical law offices and partner profits, and by supporting their attorneys with a technology that virtually connected Clearspire’s attorneys and allowed secure remote access to case documents. Last month, Clearspire closed it’s virtual law firm doors.
For five years, Clearspire led the charge in revolutionizing the 21st Century workplace and the delivery of legal services. We built a reengineered law firm as an alternative to BigLaw and, in the process, challenged the entrenched legal industry to think and act differently.
Our law firm was a laboratory – a proof of concept that demonstrated just how innovative today’s lawyers can be. In the process, we redefined client satisfaction, lawyer efficiency, and pioneered the model for the future of legal services delivery.
There are a number of virtual law firms still in existence professing the same or similar innovative methods that are “the future of legal services.” But are virtual law firms the answer to what plagues the legal system?
Perhaps virtual law firms are part of the answer, but as Clearspire discovered, the solution is not so simple. That’s because what plagues the legal system is not just hourly billing and high billing rates. Low billing rates, for example, will not fix court procedures that result in protracted and costly litigation or unjust outcomes. Law firm innovation, while important, will not solve all that ails the system. The court system and clients themselves need to be part of the solution.
LPR applauds the efforts of all those who seek to innovate their part of the legal system. But true reform will take the forward thinking, candid dialogue of judges, lawyers and clients working together to identify the problems and brainstorm solutions. Otherwise, true reform will remain elusive.