POSTCARDS FROM THE VALUE JOURNEY:
SELECTED FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNTS BY CHIEF LEGAL
Providers of legal services in Australia have fractured into multiple markets. Big Law has struck
back, and now law firms are among the most innovative. Having gotten buy-in and devoted
resources to developing new models and services, they are seeing new opportunities, such as
lawyers on demand and technology-enabled service delivery. Although many firms are exploring
new pricing models as well as new delivery methods, rates are still heavily weighted toward time,
perhaps with a margin for success factors; they have not really moved to value.
As to in-house clients, I think they’re more interested rather than doing. Many have a toe in the
water, but few have leapt in. Conservatively, they are frustrated with the status quo but haven’t
got their heads around the way things could be. Further, clients are spoiled for choice and suspect
they may actually pay more for a matter. They are nervous, because they don’t know what
metrics to use. Many general counsel formerly worked in private practice and are steeped in those
The bottom line is that corporate clients will pay substantially less across their entire portfolio if
they move away from hourly rates.
— Maria Polczynski, General Counsel, AMP Bank
I think in-house has tried to take the lead on moving legal work away from private practice. Over
the past 10 years, many lawyers have moved from private practice to in-house roles, bringing
their knowledge with them. This gives them the ability to effect change; it feels like a freer
The challenge for law firms is to move up the value stack. They can provide a lot of value on
— Paul Lanzone, Vice President & Associate General Counsel, Asia-Pacific and Japan, HP
Driving greater value is frequently discussed in the legal press and at conferences in Australia and
New Zealand, but the firms have not totally embraced the concept. The market has matured over
the past three years, reflecting a changing global landscape. Whereas law firms formerly drove the
relationship, power is now in the hands of general counsel. Every firm we spoke to was open to
working in a different way.
— Sarah Turner, General Counsel, REA Group
People who come from overseas are really quite surprised at our continued reliance on the billable
hour. Lawyers are conservative and risk-averse. We may not like the billable-hour system, but at
least we understand it.
— Mei Ramsay, General Counsel, Medibank