Tag Archive ABS

Byadmin

A Question of Quality, Quantity, Quill-pushers, Quarrels and Quakes

Managing a Law Firm in Uncertain Times

My year has so far been a flurry of activity – clients seeking new initiatives to stave off the competition and the search for a bright torch to show the path through the darkness. The darkness cast over the legal profession impacting on a managing partner’s vision has been caused by a multitude of concerns;

• The regular announcements of new, SRA approved, dynamic alternative business structures (ABS’s).
• The spread of ineffectual but tempting branded “legal networks” seeing an opportunity to build a business on the fear of failure and their belief of strength in numbers.
• Government changes to Legal Aid removing such client support for key practice areas including Family.
• Further legislative changes to reduce Personal Injury fees via the Jackson Reforms.
• Changes to employment legislation and general job loss fears reducing the number of employment law matters.
• The property and construction markets flatlining.
• The Ministry of Justice removing claims referral companies as a source of new Personal Injury work.
• The regulatory body for firms in England & Wales – the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and their insistence on adding layers of bureaucracy through two new compliance officer roles.

And of course the ever present need to find enough fee income to pay for Practising Certificates and Professional Indemnity Insurance.

Add to this the pressure to invest in technology, talent and training and you have a series of seismic events that for many are leading to nasty rumbles if not catastrophic quakes within partnerships throughout the UK.

On the upside there are significant opportunities for law firms across most areas of the practice spectrum. Those opportunities are not in the same shape, colour and size as before. Clients are far more comfortable and capable accessing information online before deciding on contacting a lawyer. Clients now come pre-packed with knowledge and a revised expectation of what value your service is to them.

They also select their law firm or lawyer on criteria that has evolved to include recommendations but often accepting them from comments posted on web forums and increasingly social media. Twitter is now far more likely to be used to find an answer that will be acted upon than Google as responses are provided by a trusted network.

Firms that believe clients will still flood in because of their “long standing reputation”, “location”, “profile of senior partners” will find themselves falling further behind as competition increases. This will be ever more apparent in firms who have failed to implement Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions to enable a meaningful ongoing interaction with existing clients.

Well that’s a bright and cheery view. I make no apology; it is the reality of managing a modern law firm in 2013. To be successful, a legal practice like any other business needs to grow through innovation; understanding of customer needs, a clearly articulated vision and quality execution of service.

After 5+ years of recession we can be excused for feeling tired, battered and lacking that vital spark to revitalise the business but now is the time to do it.

If any of the points above are a current concern to your business and you would like to discuss please email in confidence to david.laud@i2isolutions.co.uk or call 08456 446624 to arrange an initial meeting.

Byadmin

Evolutionary Law

Charles Darwin

In his day Charles Darwin would have been aware of the existence of solicitors but probably not considered that his theory on evolution and natural selection could be applied to that most staid of professions. 

Darwins’ theory explained evolution as a process that took millions of years. The difference for your typicalUKlawyer is that right now they have a life changing event akin to the impact experienced by the dinosaurs to contend with. 

One would hope that the introduction of the Legal Services Act would not so much wipe out solicitors as we know it but accelerate a long overdue evolution and metamorphosis.  Not to say there won’t be casualties, for some the impact has already been felt.  A number of practices across the country have struggled; failing to manage succession, obtain professional indemnity cover or simply folded because running costs were too high and they didn’t attract enough clients.

Add to the mix the prospect of high profile competition from nationally recognised brands such as the Co-op and BT, the governments drive to strip costs from publically funded areas and eliminate referrals for personal injury and life for your average managing partner just became more than a little interesting.

Quality Solicitors

Those with an eye for an opportunity have quickly seized the initiative with the creation of apparent “safe harbours” for law firms to lay anchor and leave the tricky task of trying to compete to someone else.  Examples include Quality Solicitors.  The recent impressive TV ad launch from Quality Solicitors will have created a significant stir and feeling of warmth amongst its early adopting panel.  Will they feel quite so content in 12 – 18 months when they’re joined by even larger already established brands?  Claims Directs £16m TV budget didn’t deliver for them 10 years ago but it did create a noise.   

“The survival of the fittest” a term first used by polymath Herbert Spencer following his study ofDarwin’s theory is an appropriate phrase to describe the pressure on our legal sector.

Being fit means of course being in shape, physically with the talent within the business including leadership and essentially the strategic direction including the message communicated to customers. 

If you’re running a law firm right now you need to decide if you’re prepared for the future and indeed have the energy and ambition to succeed in an increasingly competitive market.

The future of many firms lies with the next generation of lawyers and managers who need to see that the business has a clear sense of its position and confidence in its approach.

The time is not to make like the dodo or dinosaur but to see the increase in activity by larger brands as an opportunity.  Millions spent on TV advertising is not such a threat as many may think, it’s putting the subject of a range of legal services into the mainstream media.

Of course some may be attracted by the glossy, polished national ad campaigns but in my experience it only serves to increase overall awareness. Well placed, local firms will benefit as long as they’ve evolved and adapted to capitalise in this brave new world.  Be brave, don’t fear the new world, be bright and stand out. 

David Laud

Partner i2i Business Solutions LLP