In a week of transport and weather misery it is significant that there are now more than 800 lawyers in the UK working for “virtual” law firms. That means they are comfortably working at home while their erstwhile colleagues are stuck on a bus.
“The growing population of ‘virtual lawyers’ reflects the changing landscape of legal services as technology renders distance obsolete,” says Jon Cartwright, a partner at the accountancy firm Hazelwoods, which has done the research. “Their decentralised business model means virtual law firms have lower fixed costs, and lawyers therefore tend to be paid a higher proportion of the fees they make than in traditional firms where they are likely to be salaried.”
A surprising endorsement of the virtual model comes from firms such as Eversheds, Berwin Leighton Paisner and Pinsent Masons, each of which has set up its own virtual firm under hipster-sounding titles such as Eversheds Agile and Vario. Basically, it’s the respectable face of the gig economy. Beats life in a traffic jam.
Also better than being stuck in traffic would be an invitation from the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago to the Hyatt Hotel in Trinidad where Atkins Chambers is today launching the 13th edition of Hudson’s Building and Engineering Contracts. Hudson’s is one of the great institutions of the legal publishing world, with it being the bible of construction law. Such is the tome’s eminence that it enjoys the distinction of having been mentioned by the author Jane Gardam in her novel Old Filth.
Atkins has been looking after Hudson’s for the publisher — now Sweet & Maxwell — since 1959, which means a big commitment to authoritative updating. It has a worldwide readership and the Hudson roadshow has already visited Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and London. Sounds like a good plotline for Death in Paradise.
Sir Mark Warby’s enthusiastic review of Flack’s Last Shift by Alex Wade in this week’s Law Society Gazette reminded me what a growing genre LegitLit (novels by lawyers) has become. Also entertaining is Order in Court by David Osborne, which opens with a post-Christmas divorce case, and Michael Simmons’s legal thriller Low Life Lawyer. Well worth reading on the replacement bus.