The virtual law-firm come true
Home based work in the juristic field realized by the concept “Anwaltsladen”
Flexible forms of organization are becoming possible through the newly emerging computer and communication technologies in the juristic field, as well. A Dutch lawyer takes a head start: Murk Muller developed the concept “Anwaltsladen”.
It’s not the law-firm’s organization that determines the treatment of a mandate; it’s the mandate that prescribes the law-firm’s organization. A team is set up according to the mandate’s requirements and skills of the participators connected. Connected participators can be lawyers, jurists or legal assistants that cooperate via the Anwaltsladen.
The Anwaltsladen lives off the independence of the participators. Every participator is an entrepreneur and his own boss. One is also entirely independent regarding the acceptance and allocation of cases. Hierarchy is not the Anwaltsladen’s cup of tea. The collaborations within the Anwaltsladen are coined by teamwork and mutual candidness.
“In a lawyer’s field good organization is nothing but sound communication”. The Anwaltsladen enables proper communication without tying its participants place or time-wise. It bridges physical distances. A mandate’s documents can be accessed online. Moreover all action taken in a mandate is logged in a database thereby creating an overview of the happenings in a mandate. Once the participator begins with his work he gets a Logbuch-pull off (excerpt) listing all relevant information regarding the participator and his mandate. Follow-ups, deadlines and meetings are also all listed on the pull-off. In the same way one’s very own to-do list is shown on the pull-off.
“good organization is nothing but sound communication”
The first Anwaltsladen is located in Berlin-Wannsee / Germany. The Anwaltsladen’s technical heart beats in a cosy room under the roof of a patriarchal community owned house with self-developed soft and hardware specifically adjusted to the Anwaltsladen’s needs. The Anwaltsladen’s mail arrives here and gets scanned and archived in paper-form, as well. This is also the place for collegial communication, mutual support and cooperation between the Anwaltsladen’s participators. Clients can be met here too, but the mandate’s files themselves will be worked on at home.
The system lives off independent and self-reliant people who inform other participartors accurately and that stick to agreements. The highest maxim is, “say what you do and do as you say”. This type of cooperation requires a great deal of trust and openness towards each other.
The Anwaltsladen reduces costs and advances professional exchange of information. It also helps to simplify the start into working-life. Experienced lawyers and legal assistants that can no longer identify themselves with the “office politics” of the bigger law-firms find a way to focus on the actual material again, without missing out on collegial cooperation. Jurists and legal assistants that, for whatever reason, can’t or don’t want to (e.g. young parents) tie themselves in terms of place and time may just find all freedoms they seek in the Anwaltsladen.
The experience so far reveals a renaissance of the joy and pleasure to work. Who knows, maybe the next Anwaltsladen will open its doors somewhere else soon.
Berlin, January 01, 2000
Original in German by Ira Schelp
Translation by Lukas Bühl (draft version)