There's more to law than web success

Stuart Clark believes that UK practitioners should be keeping an eye on Australia's CFA experience.

In the past two weeks you could have been forgiven for thinking that the legal world is starting to become a fully fledged business.

The news that Gareth Quarry, chief executive of QD, has made £31.8m by reversing his business into TMP Worldwide, has been the talk of the market since The Lawyer broke the story last Monday. Indeed, all Quarry's work placing candidates into hugely well-paid positions has paid off. Even the top City earners are professing grudging admiration for the deal, especially since Quarry not only has a cash pile of more than £15m, but a chunky capital asset in TMP shares.

Part of TMP Worldwide's long-term strategy is to encourage law firms to recruit via the internet.

This week Berwin Leighton is the latest to join the dotcom revolution by forming a joint venture with Deloitte & Touche to launch Be-Professional, targeting small and medium sized enterprises. Linklaters has also set up a web product, Blue Flag, which is aimed at servicing client needs, and plenty of other firms are pondering their digital strategy.

These developments aim to revolutionise the way law firms and clients conduct their business. But before we get carried away with the brave new world of the e-legal market, Clifford Chance has brought everybody down to earth with a bang.

Equity partners will miss out on their quarterly accelerated profit distribution because they simply have not got around to invoicing clients.

There may be a revolution taking place in some areas of the legal market but others will clearly have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.