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Pushing the boundaries

Pushing the boundaries

By Sylvie Alston

Legal Services Practice Management 

What do you need to know to start your own firm or legal service provider? Mainstream television and movies typically simplify lawyers' roles as existing in commercial law firms or courtrooms. However, today young lawyers1 (YLs) know the profession is often far from its portrayal in popular culture. Three successful lawyers and entrepreneurs – Dominic Woolrych, Scott Chamberlain and Demetrio Zema – share their insights for YLs interested in starting their own law firm or legal services provider (LSP). Legal profession. If YLs want to "disrupt" the profession, they need to understand it foremost, says LawPath CEO Dominic Woolrych. In Victoria, until YLs have completed a period of supervised legal practice and done work that constitutes "engaging in legal practice" their practising certificate is restricted by this statutory supervisory condition. So, if YLs want to start their own firm (and more specifically provide legal advice) they will need to work at a traditional firm first. The competition for such roles in the current market is real. Outside the competitiveness of that regulatory framework, YLs now have the option to start an LSP (where no legal advice is provided). For YLs contemplating this, it is not unrealistic to expect to start right out of law school, as long as the necessary experience is gained to understand how a successful LSP works Mr Woolyrch says. The meaning of NewLaw is widely debated but most agree it is the antithesis of the operations of the traditional law firm and represents a "significantly different approach to the creation or provision of legal services".2 Law Squared founder and director Demetrio Zema cautions, as does Dr George Beaton, NewLaw does not simply mean "new player" or "new firm" by virtue of its age or size.3 YLs shouldn't therefore feel the pressure to start their own firms. Rather, he encourages YLs to "reach out" to the NewLaw players and recognise "the trajectory of traditional firms is not the only legal pathway".

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