Brevity Law

Does Size Matter?

Brevity Law.jpg

As a business, finding the right (legal) match is invaluable. Most businesses will require legal services at some point. Finding a law firm which you trust, is efficient, which values and understands your needs and one which you also "like", is pretty rare.

Of course, there is no denying that the big firms (the ones whose names we all recognise, and who occupy prime high-rise real estate, dominating our city skylines) have the budget to attract top university talent and to retain and nurture these young, bright legal minds. In addition, larger firms have what we dub "BMT" – big matter temperament, together with the name and PI insurance to back it up. 

However, there are many benefits of going small.

  1. (Relative) Affordability. No quality commercial lawyer will be cheap. However, the lower cost base which comes with running a smaller, more streamlined, boutique firm is extremely significant. It’s a difference that provides value only for the large law firm, not for its client. The hourly rate of a partner at a big law firm will be between R4 000 and R10 000. Senior practitioners at a smaller firm will be half of that, easily.
  2. Fee Flexibility. Small firms can be flexible on their fee structure. There is less constraint to strict billing and fee targets. Lawyers at a big firm need to hit incredibly demanding targets in order to justify their existence and to be eligible for promotion. There is no incentive to not charge for that 2-minute phone call to a client. Sure, that client may not come back to you, but at a big firm, there are many more clients waiting to fill the gap. At a small firm, client satisfaction really matters. There is greater incentive to consider alternative, flexible, fixed fee structures and to discount fees where appropriate.
  3. Better Business Insight. Small firm lawyers are business people, running their own businesses, whereas few big firm lawyers ever get near an income statement or understand the practicalities of doing business. Finding a lawyer who knows how to apply the law to reality means less isolated legal opinions and more robust and practical advice.
  4. Nimble. Small firms won’t all necessarily be faster, but the right ones will be, as they can afford to be more agile.
  5. Client-centric. Small firms may not have access to reams of precedents, but the lack of efficiency in that respect is a trade-off to the personalised product offering. Small firms know which client prefers a "1-pager" in simple language, versus the client who wants to see all the bells and whistles with no gaps in between. Small firms "get" your business. Certain clauses are not appropriate for a factory operation, but are infinitely important to the start-up tech client.

Here's to finding a small, but fierce, firm of lawyers to back your corner.

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