Change can be good, change can be achieved.
Fee pressure, new entrants to the market and increased regulation; we understand the pain facing the legal profession in the UK today. Many firms have reduced head count, particularly in back office functions, and have implemented or started to implement system changes to make them more efficient and effective going forward. However, it is not an exaggeration to say that the legal profession is undergoing a revolution, with many senior partners and board members scratching their heads as they try to work out how to remain profitable, reputable and retain customer loyalty.
New entrants to the market are not burdened with history and culture which drive the behaviours in many established law firms: Behaviours which may no longer be compatible with an industry under pressure to become more streamlined and efficient.
Law firm leadership often do not have experience in industries where standardising, simplifying and reducing time are key to the success of the business, nor (for the most part) are they likely to have undertaken training in this area. They are historically unaccustomed to clients who ask difficult questions about why things can’t be completed faster, or why they have to wait weeks just to receive a letter when surely an email would be instant and just as effective. They are not used to the challenge of being questioned by purchasing when trying to win new business or going to tender.
However, if law firms don’t face the challenges head on then they will face a downward spiral perhaps over a period of years with lower returns, smaller practices and more stress and strain than ever before. The legal profession needs to think about how it will change to accommodate the new world engulfing them. The common adage, adapt or die is particularly fitting to a lumbering and out of touch legal firm.
Facing the challenges
Some firms have addressed the revolution in different ways. Some have looked to new and improved systems, while others have closed some offices or challenged their suppliers to cut costs. Others have laid-off back office staff and may have outsourced it in an attempt to reduce costs: All of which have an impact in the short term, but could actually make matters worse in the long term.
The firms who take this revolution as a massive opportunity to review their operating models, to implement a culture of continuous improvement, are the ones who will not only survive but flourish in the new world.
As a senior partner or board member you must think bigger and bolder in how to change your firm to face the pressures of the current situation. You must embrace change and set up your firm to do so. You must challenge all of your staff to think and act differently. You must look at your operating model and consider what changes could totally transform your business. Throw out the old paradigms and challenge the accepted norms.
- Why can’t claims be settled in one day?
- Why can’t conveyancing be done in one day?
- Why do we need to send a letter to will beneficiaries rather than an email?
Let’s look at problems in a different way.
To do this senior partners will have to be bold and brave while they take on new challenges that were never in their original career path. You will need support from new sources; not legal experts but business experts, process improvement experts and behaviour experts. You will need to think in terms of client care, processes, staff engagement and empowerment. You will need a new strategy for your firm in the short and long term.
Over the last few years we have helped firms to think in new ways, to educate everyone from board members down to fee earners and back office staff. We’ve given those people the tools to transform processes to make them effective and efficient for the new world. We would like the opportunity to help you remove the pain you are currently experiencing and transform your firm.