Is a truly ethical business model possible in the legal sector?

Today we are catching up with Lindsay Healy, the Founder of Aria Grace LLC. They claim to do things a little differently. We were intrigued..

Lindsay, tell us what’s different about your organisation?

The core of Aria Grace LLC, as a business model for today and as a legacy for the next generations, is to deliver two things our ethical-world values and at the same time top class services.

We focus on the client, our lawyers and society collectively as one ecosystem – so contemporaneously, we dramatically reduce clients’ legal fees while providing a work environment that is truly flexible, where everyone gets paid in the exact same way and everyone shares in the profits of the company equally.

Everyone gets treated in the exact same way, whether you are the Founder or a returning parent working a few hours a week. It is a win for clients, a win for lawyers and creates a sustainable ethical business model for society which can be used in multiple sectors.

It is a new way of doing business and we label it #ethical-world.

Why is diversity important to you?

I look at this question from the other way around – why do some people not see the importance and value of diversity? Diversity as a word is too huge and complex to do justice here - it is massively important to Aria Grace LLC but it is also in my eyes a no brainer.

Diversity is not just important from a human and sociocultural perspective but also from the bottom line value that diversity brings to companies. Diversity is everywhere, it’s the real world, particularly in places like London and yet when you look into many businesses diversity is not there, and this is especially true in the legal world.

We use a maxim at Aria Grace LLC that says “if you are good enough, then you are good enough” which is a broad brush attempt to say that we embrace your your colour, creed, sexual preferences, age gender. You are a lawyer, you are good enough you and we learn from everything else you bring and you are.

How do your clients respond to the fact that your lawyers work flexibly and may not be available 24 hours a day?

Our clients are amazing. They are incredibly supportive of our model and what we are achieving, and we pay them back by providing top class lawyers (we are all currently from City or global elite law firms) at 1/5th traditional City firm fees.

While everyone is flexible at Aria Grace LLC we blend between those wanting to work a few hours a day to those wanting to work much more. Our clients also know that in some cases lawyers (for example with a returning parent) may not be available at all times but that we are relentlessly focussed on them and constantly communicate so there are no surprises. We use great technology and have a sufficiently big support network now to back fill for each other. In many ways this is no different to traditional law firms.

How will you assess the success of your new venture?

In many ways it is a success already. It’s currently a very mini version of what I believe it can become, but we are only 10 months old. An environment which brings value and cost savings to clients and a unique professional model to lawyers with #ethical-world values is a very attractive model. It is also a model that others can copy, either within the legal industry, or in the accountancy vertical and elsewhere, you just have to look at it from a different lens. Anyone can be, and indeed everyone should be, part of #ethical-world.

However, while the uptake has been great to date, it needs to be quicker. Changes to business models are riddled with apathy, that’s why the suffragette movement is little over 100 years old, the equal pay act is 50, Rosa Parks is 63 years old: these should be instantaneous game changes but change is slow. I suspect it is too slow because it doesn’t suit structures, like law firms, to change their structure – it involves giving things away, a greed is bad culture. Lord Sumption, the wonderful Supreme Court Judge, suggested it could take another 50 years to achieve gender equality, that it should not be rushed for fear of interrupting the “terribly delicate organism” of British Justice. Perhaps he is right, but we decided that if the current legal structures are too “delicate” then we would create a new robust one, which is how and why we got to Aria Grace LLC.

What are your plans for the future?

Currently we are establishing “brand”. In other words, if you can not deliver legal services that match the best of City law firms, then everything else falls away, because Clients need that legal excellence, so we are taking on very senior lawyers from top City Firms or the global elite.

We are also doing this at low cost, which means no expensive overheads like buildings, marketing departments, so that we pass on all the cost savings to clients which is how we can do what we do for 1/5th the fees of traditional City law firms. That obviously represents enormous value to clients.

However we want to be able to provide even more value to clients and bring on more junior lawyers over time, further pushing down fees. We also will be working with charities like Future First to provide mentoring to school children who have huge potential, but may not have the right role models to guide them – Aria Grace LLC is designed with the next generations in mind. All of these things lead to #ethical-world!

Thank you for your time Lindsay and good luck in the future!

#csr #ethics #ethicalbusinessmodel #ethicalworld