A Melbourne-based network of highly experienced lawyers expects to double in size and revenue within the next six months. Plexus Group, which launched late last year, has already established a network of more than 140 experienced lawyers across the country who work a range of flexible hours for a variety of reasons.

Plexus was founded by Andrew Mellett and Andrew Meagher, on the premise that top quality lawyers don’t have to work in a law firm, and in many cases don’t want to work full-time. “There’s a huge amount of exceptional lawyers out there who for whatever reason can’t or don’t want to work for a traditional law firm or in-house,” said Mallett. “We’ve established a network of these lawyers who’ve all worked with top law firms and quite often worked in-house with major corporations.”

Those lawyers, or refugees as Plexus calls them, work on engagements for clients to perform high volume legal tasks at a fraction of the cost of what a traditional law firm would charge. According to Mellett, engaging a Plexus lawyer on a project can save legal consumers up to 70 percent of the same calibre lawyer from a firm or in-house department. “The primary reason behind that is between 30-42 cents in the dollar that you’re spending on a law firm lawyer goes to overheads. That’s the first area, the second is that we don’t have a partnership structure, obviously partners with very high profit aspirations translates through to very high margins,” he explained.

While Plexus does take a margin of the rate charged to clients for one of the network’s lawyers, it’s minimal in comparison to a law firm said Mellett, and allows Plexus to offer all those added services one would expect of a law firm. “We manage quality control, project management, we hold professional indemnity insurance etc,” he said. “A lot of our lawyers work remotely or at the client’s office, so there are cost savings there as well.”

Rates for a Plexus lawyer depend on a number of factors, and can be varied according to the job. “The preferred option, the easiest option is a per hour basis, but we recognise that there is a move towards fixed price billing, and even when we do an hourly rate 15 percent of that hourly rate is linked to efficiency or quality targets,” he added.

In addition to in-house legal departments, Plexus lawyers are also regularly utilised by law firms that require additional skills on a project by project basis. “We’ve got engagements directly from a major law firm,” stated Mellett. “Law firms are recognising activities such as search and discovery are no longer core for them and they struggle to bill for it; so they’re engaging us to perform that lower level work within litigation, while still managing the litigation and undertakeing all the complex and difficult activities associated with it.”