The digital regulation agency 360 Enterprise Law goals to disrupt the US authorized market
- 360 Business Law, a virtual law firm with operations in 60 countries, recently expanded into the US and wants to be present in all 50 states.
- By eliminating overhead costs, the company aims to challenge the legal industry by providing its customers with flat-rate fees that are well below industry standards.
- Robert Taylor, CEO and General Counsel of the firm, and Ben Lambert, President of the New US Practice, spoke to Business Insider about their unique business model and why they believe the US legal market is ripe for disruption.
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A UK-based virtual law firm has expanded into the US seeking to disrupt the legal industry by cutting overheads and bringing high-end lawyers to their team of freelance attorneys.
360 Business Law is an entirely remote law firm founded in 2014 by Attorney Robert Taylor, who is now its CEO and General Counsel. With the Legal Services Act of 2007, he saw an opportunity in the changing regulatory landscape that would allow most legal services in the UK, including contract management and corporate advice, to be provided by non-lawyers.
“It destroyed the legal profession in the UK,” said Taylor.
The distinction between regulated and unregulated people does not apply to the United States, as you must be a licensed attorney to practice law, explained Ben Lambert, president of the U.S. practice. He said that the virtual, commercially minded model of 360 Business Law still translates well to the American market.
“An attorney’s job shouldn’t be to say no, but to understand the client’s business,” said Lambert, who previously worked for Baker McKenzie.
360 Commercial Law hires lawyers in most areas of practice, but their main services are corporate law, labor law and commercial contracts. The firm connects clients with lawyers in the respective industry and jurisdiction.
Cross the pond and look ahead during a pandemic
Despite the less than random timing – it opened its Washington, DC office just before the coronavirus pandemic broke out in March – the company weathered the storm well, according to Taylor.
“It’s going as usual,” he said, noting that they have done project work in 32 countries over the past few months.
Lambert said 360 Business Law has ambitions to penetrate all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico. Gordon & Rees was the first law firm to have a presence in all US states in 2019, as reported in Bloomberg.
“We will directly challenge the traditional law firm model and prove to prospects and colleagues across the country that legal services can be provided cost-effectively,” Lambert told Business Insider.
The attorneys are either lone practitioners or are contracted by law firms, and 360 Business Law said it is open to partnering with U.S. law firms.
Low overheads and broad geographic coverage made possible by in-house technology are the main advantages of the company
Taylor and Lambert outlined two main reasons they believe the company can become a “thought leader” in the US.
First, the low overhead costs as the company does not have fancy offices in expensive cities and does not employ receptionists or paralegals.
This enables the company to charge its customers significantly lower fees. The company operates on a subscription model that charges subscribers a flat hourly rate of $ 214.50 per hour for most US jurisdictions and $ 260 per hour for major states such as New York and DC.
In contrast, white shoe companies can charge between $ 400 an hour for employees and $ 600 an hour for partners, as reported in Reuters.
Though at first glance it looks like the 360 Business Group’s lawyers are getting paid less as a result, Taylor said that at the end of the day they actually put more into their pockets.
“Overheads for administrators and other people make up 70% of sales, which means you have 30% left to pay partners and lawyers,” he said. Additionally, lawyers don’t have a billable hour or business formation requirements, giving them more time to focus on their cases.
Second, the 360 Business Group’s broad geographic coverage, unhindered by the need for physical office space, enables greater reach and diversity.
The firm currently operates in 60 countries with around 240 attorneys, all of whom have at least five years of experience and have worked in law firms such as DLA Piper and Allen & Overy.
Taylor also said that the firm’s proprietary cloud-based case management system enables their lawyers to work from anywhere in the world as long as they have internet access.
Continue reading: The notoriously old legal industry is finally warming up to technology. Here are the winners and losers when law firms turn to startups to cut costs.
According to Lambert, the distributed, virtual setup of 360 Business Law enables the law firm to disrupt the US market.
“Clients want law firms that use advanced, secure technology. They want lawyers who understand the commercial side of things,” he said. “You want schedules, budgets, project management.”
The customer-centric mindset is not taught by most U.S. law schools, added Lambert, who has experience in legal operations. In fact, many of the attorneys hired by 360 Business Law have been entrepreneurs and investors, bringing a commercial focus to the law firm.
“This is all very new to the American lawyer,” he said. “I did a lot of that as a legal project manager, and it was a very new thing … So I said guess what? Yeah, I think the US market is ripe for this kind of setup.”