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12 January 2020

Is your legal services firm future-ready?

Published on 12 January 2020

Legal services firms today look very different compared to 10, or even five, years ago. New technologies, tougher competition and higher customer expectations have shifted the market in ways that were completely unexpected for many. Firms must therefore stocktake their capabilities today – to ensure a more certain and successful tomorrow.


Management consultancy firm Bain&Co say these rising pressures have resulted in an industry characterised by three factors:

  1. Speed
  2. Monopolies
  3. A focus on short-term wins

Firms today need to operate faster and constantly adapt – simply to survive.


Speed: the new high value currency

Digital technologies are transforming how we do business and what clients expect of us.

Today’s consumers want services delivered instantly. And firms that can’t match this speed find themselves shutting up shop quickly.

According to Bain&Co, the number of firms to survive beyond the five-year mark has declined by 30% since the 1960s.


It's a game of monopolies

It seems there may be no room for the little-guy in the current climate, with industries becoming increasingly ‘winner-take-all’.

A Bain&Co study of 315 global corporations found that just one or two players in each market earned, on average, 80% of the economic profit.


Risking it all for short-term wins

Today, more than ever before, there is an extreme focus on short-term profit for shareholders above all else.

Bain&Co say the days of long-term investment growth are on their way out. And investors are increasingly focused on ‘leverage, buyback and dividends’.

So, how can the legal industry take advantage of this new focus to stay competitive?


Digital technologies can help pick up the pace

When the average person thinks of lawyers, ‘speedy’ is not likely to be the first word that comes to mind. This needs to change. And technology can help with the transition.

New technologies can and should be used to present advice to clients because it will result in a more efficient service. These technologies will also allow lawyers to spend more of their valuable hours solving problems, rather than on lengthy paperwork searches.

Alison Laird, Head of Innovation and Project Delivery at Pinsent Masons, suggests, ‘Technology is augmenting the work people do – and that’s not going to stop. But this process shouldn’t be feared. People will still be needed to drive the analysis that comes with the work… as long as they’re supported by smart technology.’


Be resilient and embrace change

It may be uncomfortable to hear, but resilience requires being open to the idea of failure. The firm of the future will need to find a way to lean into this uncomfortable place.

Persevering with ways of working and processes just because ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ will serve no favours in an industry that’s constantly changing.

This means firms will need to get used to a level of ongoing uncertainty.


Changemakers will come from within

To affect change, a new breed will emerge within the legal services industry: ‘The Legal Intrapreneur’. It’s a snappy title. But it’s a tough gig.

These individuals will set off a wave of change within their organisation, which will mean rallying against strong organisational inertia that wants to maintain the status quo.

These ‘Intrapreneurs’ need to be nurtured and supported because they will be key to driving innovation within the legal services firms of the future.


Ready to prepare your firm for the future?

Disrupt or be disrupted: The age of the legal intrapreneur and entrepreneur is a 6-week course that forms part of the newly created Master of Legal Business at the College of Law and is led by Teaching Fellow, Alison Laird. This subject will open your eyes to how to be a changemaker within your organisation.

The Master of Legal Business will help you grasp the changing legal market and learn the key skills and mindsets you need to face its challenges – head on. Learn more about this unique course.