BigLaw will be wise to heed to the caveat of NewLaw

fourth industrial revolution
13 Aug 2019

“Caveat”, a legal word derived from Latin, literally meaning “let a person beware”, warns of specific provisions, stipulations, conditions or limitations. In today’s 21st Century, amidst the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its associated digital evolution and digitalisation, it will serve BigLaw well to take note of and heed to the caveat – The future is a given but traditional legal practice may not be.

Many traditional legal practitioners are shaking their heads and smirking at the idea that NewLaw and the Fourth Industrial Revolution are taking over the legal industry, believing this is nothing more than “Pie in the Sky”. However, there is no denying that traditional BigLaw,  referring to the hierarchal, billable hour practice of law, is increasingly competing with a new form of law, NewLaw, that refers to alternative legal service providers that are practicing law in new and innovative ways, using technologies to streamline and economise the legal process.

Yvonne Wakefield, a former BigLaw attorney who completed her articles at Bowmans before heading into practice at the Bar, and who is today a NewLaw owner and director of Caveat Legal, advises that the traditional law firm is no longer suited to today’s economic conditions. Most of today’s businesses, even successful businesses, are simply not willing to pay for the unnecessary infrastructure traditionally associated with legal work. Clients are expecting more value for their money and are becoming more discerning when it comes to buying legal services, demanding better value for more agile, transparent and innovative legal advice and services.

Having worked in BigLaw for some time, and struggling with the inherent conflict of the traditional law firm that incentivises longer, drawn out legal matters, encouraging additional legal work to meet monthly targets, Yvonne set out and founded an alternative legal service provider, Caveat Legal.

Caveat Legal is a commercial legal consultancy, with of a panel of 55 former BigLaw lawyers that consult and advise clients independently. They offer assistance in meeting increased legal demands by filling-in where legal team members are on temporary leave; they do ad hoc legal brief work (much like the traditional law firms); secondments, retainers and regulatory and compliance training. Caveat Legal is completely virtual, providing the option of consultants to work individually or in teams, remotely or on premises, depending on the needs and preferences of the client.

Irrespective of your opinion on the caveat – The future is a given but traditional legal practice may not be – join Futures Law Faculty  for an evening of personal stories from former BigLaw players, such as Yvonne Wakefield and others, who broke free of BigLaw and its traditions to discuss the reasons they broke away, the challenges they faced and how they feel  about the future of law. We look forward to seeing you on 15 August 2019, at 17:00 – 20:30 at Inner City Ideas Cartel, managed by Nina Van Deventer Property and Project Management.

For more information and tickets please see – or

See also: Legalese for the creatives and innovators

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)

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