Australian legal services is only two steps away from a lawyer hiring revolution

Posted at Legal Practice Intelligence - 21 November 2016

One of the bourgeoning success stories in the contract/temp lawyer hiring field could be opening up in Australia thanks to a coincidence of events that is currently underway.

The world's largest law firm, Dentons is in the process of establishing an Australian presence through a merger with local firm, Gadens. The intended merger was announced 12 months ago and was planned to be executed during this year. In the meantime, Denton's wholly owned venture capital business, Nextlaw Labs has invested in US contract attorney business, Hire an Esquire.

If it launches here, Hire an Esquire will not be the first business of its type in Australia. Other notable players already operating here are LOD (Lawyers on Demand) and Crowd & Co. There is also the home grown contract lawyer service, Orbit which is affiliated with Corrs. However, Hire an Esquire does have the potential to be a tipping point for lawyer hiring in Australia given that it has been in existence for a number of years; it has a functioning technology platform and now it has funds for further development and expansion.

The official announcement:

Nextlaw Labs, the innovative legal tech venture development company launched by global law firm Dentons, expanded its portfolio today with an investment in Hire an Esquire, a startup venture that is transforming the legal marketplace with on-demand workforce technology. With today's investment, Nextlaw Labs continues to expand Dentons' vision of innovation by developing a suite of new technologies that fundamentally change the practice of law while significantly improving client service.

The movement towards on-demand legal services is growing and will continue to shape the legal marketplace for years to come. According to a legal industry survey released this year, 56.1 percent of law firm leaders said their firms are using contract lawyers with 67.8 percent expecting an increase in contract lawyers to be a permanent trend.

"As the global legal industry shifts toward a scalable and dynamic client-service model, it is critical for law firms to embrace the on-demand workforce," said John Fernandez, chief innovation officer of Dentons US and global chair for Nextlaw Labs. "Staying competitive in the on-demand economy include entrepreneurial work models and Hire an Esquire is set to change the game for the legal services market. We are delighted to be working with their leadership team to drive and shape the future."

Founded in 2011 in response to the rise of the on-demand workforce, Hire an Esquire is an online technology platform that automates the legal staffing process by reducing overhead and increasing market transparency. The company's sophisticated online matchmaking service connects verified law practices and in-house legal departments with a curated, national network of attorneys for freelance, contract, or local counsel work. The all-in-one platform allows attorneys to directly communicate, track time, and approve invoices. Since its launch, the company has grown to an active network of more than 6,000 screened, vetted attorneys and clients ranging from boutique law firms to Fortune 500 and AmLaw200 firms.

"We are thrilled to be working with Nextlaw Labs and Dentons to reinvent the business of law," said Julia Shapiro, founder and chief executive of Hire an Esquire. "This relationship forges a path off of the traditional partner track towards a modernized legal workforce and sets a precedent for Big Law and modern technology working together to move into the new economy."

Hire an Esquire marks Nextlaw Labs' eighth global investment in the past 18 months since Dentons launched the legal technology investor and accelerator. Hire an Esquire joins an elite group of legal technology innovators that includes Canadian developer ROSS Intelligence, which leverages IBM Watson-powered cognitive computing to refine expert legal research; UK-based Apperio, a startup focused on streamlining matter management; South African startup Libryo, a SaaS (software as a service) platform enabling users to understand legal obligations in any situation; Doxly, a US-based secure, cloud-based platform designed to simplify corporate legal transactions; Clause, a US-based data driven smart contracting platform that leverages the Internet of Things; Qualmet, a US legal service quality metrics platform; and a Brexit contract review solution developed in partnership with RAVN Systems. "The ability to quickly match supply with demand for legal talent is a real benefit to global legal services providers, which are constantly exploring ways to deliver better value to their clients like alternative and flexible staffing models," added Dan Jansen, chief executive of Nextlaw Labs. "We are excited to be working with Hire an Esquire to embrace the on-demand workforce."

Announced at Palo Alto, 16 November 2016

About Nextlaw Labs

Nextlaw Labs is a business accelerator focused on investing in, developing and deploying new technologies to transform the practice of law. It is an autonomous, wholly owned subsidiary of global law firm Dentons with physical and virtual locations in technology centers worldwide. Through complementary and strategic partnerships with leading technology companies, startups, other business accelerators and established legal vendors, Nextlaw Labs invests in promising companies to develop a suite of new technologies that fundamentally change the practice of law, improving client service and enhancing client solutions.

About Dentons

Dentons is the world's largest law firm, delivering quality and value to clients around the globe. Dentons is a leader on the Acritas Global Elite Brand Index, a BTI Client Service 30 Award winner and recognized by prominent business and legal publications for its innovations in client service, including founding Nextlaw Labs and the Nextlaw Global Referral Network. Dentons' polycentric approach and world-class talent challenge the status quo to advance client interests in the communities in which we live and work.

About Hire an Esquire

Hire an Esquire was founded in 2011 as a response to a new way of work emerging; one where talented and skilled attorneys were entrepreneurial and autonomous and could build a career off of the rigid partner track. Hire an Esquire has rebuilt legal recruiting and staffing from the ground up, using a sophisticated online platform that analyzes a candidate’s experience and expertise and matches attorneys with contract and permanent positions at law firms and legal departments of all sizes. 


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