Messing with Success
Driven by a passion to challenge the status quo, Ian Perry is pioneering a new way to deliver legal services. Only a year into the journey, Ian is making ground with his vision to re-position the way law operates and retains relevance. Part of a growing vanguard of law practitioners, we sat down with the founder of Newton’s Legal to ask why he left the comfort of a traditional firm to strike out on his own, question complacency and mess with success.
Looking at Newton’s Legal from the outside, you might think it more of a early stage tech start-up than a law practice. Emphasis is put first on things that matter to the clients, and less on marble reception desks. (Don’t get us wrong, we all love a good marble reception desk, but I think you get the point.) In place of a traditional firm name packed with awkwardly amalgamated last names, is a simple but powerful brand narrative that underpins Ian’s vision. The concept of Newton—yes, Sir Issac—is fundamentally about discovery. More aptly put, it’s about seeing things from a new perspective and finding the ways to get there. In today’s legal landscape, approachability and efficiency—or “law as it should be” as Ian calls it—are not go-to descriptors. For Ian, these concepts are not just clever marketing but rather this 'new perspective' that is woven throughout the entire way Ian and his team practice.
Messing with what has made your industry profitable for decades is not the easy route by any stretch, but for Ian it’s almost necessary. His constant curiosity and drive to be better doesn’t afford him the luxury of simply doing it the same way, with the same tools, for the same prices. Despite his respect for the role in which more traditional firms still play, Ian feels that “established lawyers [fundamentally] do things one way because there's no pressure to do things any other way.” Still at the outset of the journey, Newton’s is already forging a new path away from the same old. “I want to create the pressure and challenge conventions” says Ian, and he started with none other than the dreaded billable hour. The exact science is still being sorted, but for all of Newton’s core services billable hours are a thing of the past, providing a transparent and fixed pricing model. This alone is a fundamental shift, providing an incredible amount of peace of mind and confidence for clients.
When it comes to tech, law firms are famously late adopters, but Ian believes that investing into tech early is the key to huge increases in efficiency (read: cost savings) without sacrificing quality of service, or in many cases, improving quality of service. It may seem ridiculous to the rest of us, but replacing fax machines and typewriters—yes, Ian has actually met lawyers who still use typewriters—with a seamless set-up of easy-to-use cloud technologies like Dropbox, is not just adapting for cultural relevancy, but reflective a larger mindset that Newton’s has to make law as convenient and painless as possible.
Motivated by the energy of entrepreneurs—he himself one, of course—you’ll find Ian spending more time at some of Toronto’s most innovative incubators and co-working spaces than on Bay Street.
He says the same of his own neighbourhood, and that both living and working in the heart of King West has a type of tangible energy that motivates him early in the morning, or when he’s burning the midnight oil. Drinks at Patria, or a Sunday jaunt up to Trinity Bellwoods are common moments he fits in amongst a packed schedule where work and play are constantly colliding, and for the the best. It’s at all of these unlikely intersections that Ian continues to discover strategies and find opportunities to practice in a more innovative way—a way that more authentically connects with people and efficiently solves real problems.
As our coffee wrapped up, it remained clear that despite the momentum, Ian felt his work was just beginning. By no means has Newton’s Legal accomplished all it set out to do, but it’s easy to see that with Ian at the helm, one day it will. All the while, through all the hustle, guided by that simple Newtonian ethos: find a new, better, way.