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Challenges Ahead For Kiwi Law Firms

Challenges Ahead For Kiwi Law Firms, Says Auckland Law Firm Innovator - The Law Jobs and Legal NewsWire

More international links and law firm alliances will occur in future, along with more international outsourcing of legal work, according to boundary-pushing Auckland lawyer and law boutique pioneer Mark Lowndes

In an interview with legal news and law jobs website, Mr Lowndes, a partner in Lowndes Associates, which last year handled over $450 million in mergers and acquisitions transactions, says there are some major changes and challenges ahead for law firms.

He said the same management issues affecting many industries will also affect the evolution of law firms with firms being required to become more flexible with staff, allowing more part-time employees and contractors, and home-based staff.

He also anticipates increased flexibility and creativity in charging methods, and that technology will continue to reduce routine work – for instance, e-dealing for land transactions, electronic discovery and due diligence.

Mark Lowndes takes pride in chalking up industry ‘firsts’: in 1986, at the age of 26, from Simpson Grierson and an 18-month secondment to BP Oil, he founded New Zealand’s first boutique law firm, which had 13 staff a year later.

At Lowndes Jordan he led the technology charge, immediately putting PCs on every lawyer’s desk in 1986 and installing a computerised knowledge management system It was one of the first New Zealand firms to install a fax in place of telex (also 1986) and one of the earliest adopters of an internal email system (1988). The firm was the first to achieve the ISO 9000 quality management certification.

He says his current firm’s success can be attributed to the development of an improved model that moves beyond the boutique model. Mark says his attitude and style of leading the firm is not just being noticed by clients – it’s helping to attract the best people in a notoriously competitive field.

The company, now comfortably medium-sized and continuing to expand, is receiving industry recognition, with three awards at the 2007 New Zealand Law Awards and a listing as a leading commercial firm in a number of categories in the Asia Pacific Legal 500 Guide to Asia’s Commercial Law Firms directory for 2007/2008.

Last year Lowndes Associates embraced sustainability by becoming the first NZ law firm to become carbon neutral and obtaining carboNZero certification from Landcare Research.

But he sees challenges ahead for law firms. “There is the growing challenge of attracting talented young people into law, and retaining them. There are many alternatives – more all the time – which offer better lifestyle, the same or better incomes, and the opportunity for capital gain. I would expect to see further evolution of law firm structures –for instances, actions such as Slater & Gordon having floated on the ASX, and specialist firms breaking away from the large firms, as we’ve seen locally.”

Read the full story on the Mark Lowndes interview at


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