Professor Mitch Kowalski is a lawyer, speaker, international adviser on legal operations, author of two books ('The Great Legal Reformation: Notes from the Field' and 'Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century'), Fastcase 50 Innovator Award Honoree and Gowling WLG Visiting Professor in Legal Service Innovation at the University of Calgary Law School. So we were delighted to catch up with him again, as our first year draws to a close, to chat about Free Range Lawyers' year one. Read on for a summary of our discussion.
Free Range Lawyers is nearly a year old! How would you describe this year?
Katherine: Exhilarating, enlightening, exhausting! As anyone who has started a new business knows, it’s a unique feeling, but one I wouldn’t be without. It has felt wonderful to turn a concept into reality and work with a fantastic team to make it happen.
Bailey: It has been an amazing year. So much has been created and cultivated in some ways it feels like it always ‘was’ rather than something that this time last year was still in pre-launch stage. In less than a year we have welcomed to our team Kate George and over 60 lawyers who are fully vetted.
What have been some highlights from this first year?
Bailey: For me, I have really enjoyed meeting the lawyers who have applied to be part of our Collective. We have had the incredible privilege of interviewing people from all corners of the globe and with wildly interesting life stories - we could have kept chatting long after the interviews concluded! It has also been immensely satisfying to see something bloom from an idea into reality along with all the systems and processes in place that will ensure the growth and development of the company into the future.
Katherine: My first mention has to be to the wonderful Free Range lawyers we have developed relationships with. Developing strong personal and professional bonds with like-minded people across the globe has been a real highlight. Our zoom account has taken a beating! We’ve spoken to people on every single continent! Another high has been working with law firms that are smart about how they scale their businesses. For Free Range Lawyers to be part of their vision to work differently has been a real privilege.
Where to from here? What does 2020 hold in store for Free Range Lawyers?
Katherine: We'll continue to focus on growing our core business - Australian, New Zealand and UK qualified lawyers working for Australian, New Zealand and UK law firms. There is so much potential here - particularly with medium and small firms. So this year, we're consolidating and sticking to what we do well: connecting great lawyers, regardless of where they work, with great law firms that are looking to operate differently. We’ll also move our working relationship with Bailey to one of partner as she continues to develop and grow her business - Remotestar Consulting. I hope Free Range Lawyers continues to be Remotestar’s ‘star’ client (forgive the pun).
Bailey: We had always intended for Free Range Lawyers to be part of a bigger solution for professionals who are wanting to work flexibly and remotely so next year will see Free Range Lawyers partnering closely with Remotestar Consulting to conduct the assessments for our lawyers and offer consultancy services around remote work.
Tell us more about Remotestar Consulting and this partnership
Bailey: Well, Remotestar Consulting specialises in the selection of remote workers and, this year, has provided assessment services to Free Range Lawyers to ensure all candidates are rigorously vetted before joining our Collective. This will continue next year and, at the same time, I will move from being involved in the day-to-day operations of Free Range Lawyers, as Director of People and Culture, to running and developing Remotestar Consulting. I will still be providing the assessment component of selection through Remotestar Consulting and, as Free Range Lawyers grows, and the internal team expands, we look forward to welcoming more new faces to our Collective and sharing our vision for the future of work.
Katherine: Bailey and I have always shared an interest in remote working. We’ve both always felt that we have complementary skills and interests. Bailey’s expertise in organisational psychology and my background in contract lawyers, combine to provide fertile ground for unique and interesting propositions around new ways of working. Free Range Lawyers is one of these and Remotestar is another. I can’t think of a better expression of our enduring partnership than to work together in mutual support of each others’ endeavours.