George Ramsay Beaton

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George Ramsay Beaton
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Born (1945-06-29) June 29, 1945 (age 77)
Johannesburg, South Africa
NationalityAustralian
CitizenshipAustralia
Occupation
  • Author
  • researcher

George Ramsay Beaton is an Australian author, researcher, and adviser in professional services, particularly legal services. The American Bar Association has said Beaton is "widely regarded as a leading independent authority on professional services firms, and law firms in particular."[1] When The College of Law, Australasia, wanted to design a new master's degree in the business side of law, they asked Beaton to be the program chair.[2][3] Beaton has been a Fellow and Associate at the University of Melbourne’s business and law schools for thirty years.[4][5] He is also the Executive Chairman of Beaton Research + Consulting and Firmchecker, which provide the data for the Client Choice Awards, which are endorsed by numerous professional associations.[6][7][8]

Early life and education

By family tradition, Beaton was destined for medicine. He was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on June 29, 1945 to George Cameron Beaton and Sya Marguerite Beaton. His maternal grandfather was Dr. John Connell Ramsay, who served in the Livingstonia mission hospital in central Africa in 1896, supported by the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society. Likewise, his uncle on his mother's side, Jack Ramsay, studied medicine.

Thus, after completing Pridwin Primary School and Michaelhouse, Beaton pursued an MBBCh (the equivalent of an M.D.) from the University of Witwatersrand. In 1968, Beaton received the British Science Association Medal for the best academic paper by someone under the age of thirty.[9] His paper was based on data he collected in 1965 and 1966 during expeditions to Botswana with the Kalahari Research Committee of the Institute for the Study of Man in Africa and the University of Witwatersrand. He also collected data on urban Africans living in Johannesburg.[10]

Professor Phillip Tobias, the head of the department of anatomy at the University of Witwatersrand at the time, said of Beaton: "His exceptional research promise marks him as a young man with a big future in medical science."[11] It was not to be, however. Beaton's research skills, in addition to other factors, led him in a different direction than medicine.

The change in direction was not due to a lack of success in the field. After becoming a medical doctor, Beaton was appointed part-time director of continuing medical education, at the University of Witwatersrand in 1974.[12] He was the editor of the South African Journal of Medical Sciences, published by Witwatersrand University Press. In 1978, he was appointed to the inaugural chair, Claude Leon Harris Professor of Medical Education.[13]

Beaton's interests were wide-ranging, however, and he found innovation lacking in health services delivery. Thus, he studied part-time for a Masters in business administration and a PhD in philosophy, both of which he attained.

His interest in business led him into pharmaceutical marketing, which, in turn, led to a major career shift.

Career Evolution: 'NewLaw'

David Parnell reported in a biographical article in Forbes that Beaton found a "lifelong passion for researching, evaluating, and developing law firm strategy."[14] This began when Beaton gave a talk at a business conference about B2B marketing, using his experience in pharmaceutical advertising. Roger Cleaver, a senior officer of the Law Society of South Africa, approached him after his talk. The legal profession was beginning to advertise, and Cleaver was concerned about what Parnell characterized as the "ongoing metamorphosis from the profession of law to the business of law."[15] Emerging from the traditional profession of medicine into the world of advertising and business, Beaton had insights that could be applied to other professions too.

Traditional law practices were being challenged by the metamorphosis Cleaver saw, as well as by technology. Mark Cohen wrote in Forbes that a new "emerging global legal community"[16] was "reshaping the culture, face, contours, composition, participants, skillsets, and priorities of the legal industry."[17] Computer capacities for the safe, remote exchange of documents and signatures, as well as the automation of legal databases enabled the rise of Alternative Legal Services Providers and Legal Process Outsourcing. This transformed the legal landscape as non-traditional providers took over many of the tasks that traditional law firms used to perform exclusively.[18] This emerging, transformative legal community came to be known as NewLaw.

In his Forbes article, Parnell credited Beaton with coining the term "NewLaw" to describe this transformation.[19] Beaton himself, however, acknowledged Michael Huber as a precursor of the use of the term.[20] Beaton popularized the term in his 2013 compendium, NewLaw, New Rules: A conversation about the future of the legal services industry.

Legal Talk Network reported that Beaton's self-published ebook "went viral,"[21] Brett Chalmers in Law Technology Today referred to the book as "influential."[22] The Law Society Journal dubbed Beaton the "NewLaw guru."[23]

In 2016, the American Bar Association published Beaton's next book, Remaking Law Firms, Why and How, co-authored with Dr. Imme Kaschner.[24] The ABA called the book "essential reading for navigating changes in legal services."[25] Indeed, the book explained how traditional law firms could "remake" themselves into leaner and more agile "NewLaw" firms to keep up with the times. Janet Welch, Executive Director of the State Bar of Michigan, wrote that the book instructed legal practitioners "in well-documented detail how to pack our bags for the journey ahead."[26] The head of Advisory Services for the Citi Private Bank Law Firm Group, Gretta Rusanow, called the book "a welcome primer on the challenges and opportunities facing law firm leaders now and in the future."[27]

Currrent Activities

The once-promising medical science research student now does research into metrics for measuring success in professional services, including law. The research also encompasses accountancy, architecture, financial services, and built and natural environmental consulting services. As mentioned, Beaton and affiliated firms provide the research data for the awarding of the professionally approved Client Choice Awards.[28][29]

Personal life

In 1969, George Beaton married Margaret Ruth Bisset. The couple has two children: Erica Beaton, (b. 1970) and Caron Beaton-Wells (b. 1971). The family relocated from Johannesburg, South Africa to Melbourne, Australia in January 1986.

Publications

Books

Herron, Mark, Woodger, Annie, Beaton, George. (1996). Facing the future: gender, employment and best practice issues for law firms: Final report. Melbourne: Victoria Law Foundation.

Beaton, George. (2013-12-16). NewLaw, New Rules: A Conversation about the future of the legal services industry. Melbourne, Australia: Beaton Capital.

Beaton, George and Kaschner, Imme. (2016-06-07). Remaking Law Firms: Why and How. The American Bar Association.

Scholarly papers

Beaton, George. (1969-01). A Growth Study of Bushman and Bantu Children. South African Journal of Science, (65)1:17-27. Available online at https://journals.co.za/doi/pdf/10.10520/AJA00382353_8648. Retrieved 2021-08-20.

Meyer, Jan H., and Beaton, George (1974). An evaluation of computer-assisted teaching in physiology. Journal of Medical Education, 49(3): 295–297. PMID: 4592265. Available at DOI: 10.1097/00001888-197403000-00014. Retrieved 2021-08-24.

Wasilewicz, Maciej and Beaton, George. (2006-04). Law Firm Management: Incorporating Human Capital. Law Society Journal, Vol. 44. University of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 447. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1546218. Retrieved 2021-08-18.

Beaton, George. (2010-02-01). Why Professionalism Is Still Relevant. University of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 445. Available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1545509# or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1545509. Retrieved 2021-08-19.

Beaton, George. (2016-01-21). Digital Disruption in Professional Services Delivery. University of Melbourne. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2718631 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2718631. Retrieved 2021-08-18.

Beaton, George. (2022-05). Why professionalism matters more than ever. Australian Council of Professions. Available at: https://www.professions.org.au/what-is-a-professional/#Why-Professionalism-Matters-more-than-Ever. Retrieved 2022-11-22.

Guest interviews and blogs

Muncey, Alex. (2018-04-24). Global Legal Hackathon: Final Judges Panel. Legal Talk Network. Available at https://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/special-reports/2018/04/global-legal-hackathon-final-judges-panel/. Retrieved 2021-08-25.

Colletti, Laurence(2014-10-22). Interview. Clio Cloud Conference: Law Firm Ownership Deregulation with George Beaton. Legal Talk Network. Available at: https://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/special-reports/2014/10/clio-cloud-conference-law-firm-ownership-deregulation-with-george-beaton/. Retrieved 2021-08-25.

Andrew, Ed (n.d.). Human Impact podcast. The Human Consultancy. Episode 19. Takeaways from Ed Andrew talking with Dr. George Beaton. Available at https://www.thehumanconsultancy.com/episode-19-with-dr-george-beaton. Retrieved 2021-08-25.

References

  1. American Bar Association. About the Author [Remaking Law Firms: Why and How, 2016]. Available at https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba-cms-dotorg/products/inv/book/237594551/5190528_author.pdf. Retrieved 7/26/21.
  2. Dolor, Sol. (2018-09-26). Master of Legal Business launched for Australasian legal pros. Australasian Lawyer. Available online at: https://www.thelawyermag.com/au/news/general/master-of-legal-business-launched-for-australasian-legal-pros/205611. Retrieved 2021-08-23.
  3. Merritt, Chris (2005-02-11). Practice management degree a first. Australian Financial Review. Available at https://www.afr.com/companies/professional-services/practice-management-degree-a-first-20050211-jle3V. Retrieved 2021-09-23.
  4. Staff.(2016-11-11). Remaking Law Firms. Melbourne Law School. The University of Melbourne. Available at https://law.unimelb.edu.au/news/archive/remaking-law-firms. Retrieved 2021-10-20.
  5. Staff. (2016-11-11). Remaking Law Firms. Melbourne Law School. The University of Melbourne. Available at https://law.unimelb.edu.au/news/archive/remaking-law-firms. Retrieved 2021-10-20.
  6. LSJ Team. (2019-01-30). Meet the Innovators: The Disruptor. LSJonline. Available at https://lsj.com.au/tag/firmchecker/. Retrieved 2021-09-24.
  7. CA ANZ (2020-03-20). CA ANZ congratulates the 2020 Client Choice Award Winners. Acuity. Available at https://www.acuitymag.com/business/ca-anz-congratulates-the-2020-client-choice-award-winners. Retrieved 2021-09-24.
  8. Association of Consulting Architects. (2019-10-01). Client Choice Awards 2020, Call for Entries, Best Architecture Firm. ACA: The Business of Architecture. Available at https://aca.org.au/client-choice-awards-2020/. Retrieved 2021-09-24.
  9. Staff. (1968-11). British Association Medal. South African Journal of Science, 64(11): pp. 401-432.
  10. Beaton, George. (1969-01). A Growth Study of Bushman and Bantu Children. South African Journal of Science, (65)1:17-27. Available at https://journals.co.za/doi/pdf/10.10520/AJA00382353_8648. Retrieved 2021-08-20.
  11. Science Correspondent. (1968-07-01). Wits Pupil gets U.K. Medal. Star.
  12. Keene, Rachelle. (2013). Our Graduates, 1924 - 2012. Publication of the Adler Museum of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, p. 26. Available at https://www.wits.ac.za/media/wits-university/alumni/documents/other-documents/Our%20Graduates_1924_2012.pdf. Retrieved 2021-10-25.
  13. Ibid., p. 30.
  14. Parnell, David. (2014-06-17). George Beaton on the Future of Law. Forbes magazine. Available at https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidparnell/2014/06/17/george-beaton-on-the-future-of-law/?sh=76c2c09657ab. Retrieved 2021-10-25.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Cohen, Mark A. (2017-12-18). Law's Emerging Global Community and What It Means. Forbes. Available at https://www.forbes.com/sites/markcohen1/2017/12/18/laws-emerging-global-community-and-what-it-mean/?sh=3ece53b7175a. Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Cohen, S. (3 August 2020). Insights. Lawflex. Available at: https://lawflex.com/2020-8-3-france-is-entering-the-world-of-new-law/. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
  19. Parnell, David. (2014-06-17). George Beaton on the Future of Law. Forbes magazine. Available at https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidparnell/2014/06/17/george-beaton-on-the-future-of-law/?sh=76c2c09657ab. Retrieved 2021-10-25.
  20. Beaton, G. (2018-03-08), Who coined NewLaw? Available at https://remakinglawfirms.com/who-coined-newlaw/. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  21. Legal Talk Network. George Beaton. Available at https://legaltalknetwork.com/guests/george-beaton/. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  22. Chalmers, Brett. (2018-07-13). NewLaw New Rules: A Conversation about the Future of the Legal Services Industry. Law Technology Today. Available at https://www.lawtechnologytoday.org/2018/07/the-future-of-the-legal-services-industry/. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  23. LSJ Team. (2019-01-30). Meet the Innovators: The Disruptor. LSJonline. Available at https://lsj.com.au/tag/firmchecker/. Retrieved 2021-09-24.
  24. American Bar Association. Available at https://www.americanbar.org/products/inv/book/237594569/. Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  25. Ibid.
  26. American Bar Association. About the Author, Remaking Law Firms: Why and How, 2016. Available at https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba-cms-dotorg/products/inv/book/237594551/5190528_author.pdf. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  27. Ibid.
  28. CA ANZ (2020-03-20). CA ANZ congratulates the 2020 Client Choice Award Winners. Acuity. Available at https://www.acuitymag.com/business/ca-anz-congratulates-the-2020-client-choice-award-winners. Retrieved 2021-09-24.
  29. Association of Consulting Architects. (2019-10-01). Client Choice Awards 2020, Call for Entries, Best Architecture Firm. ACA: The Business of Architecture. Available at https://aca.org.au/client-choice-awards-2020/. Retrieved 2021-09-24.

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