The Jackson Reforms are significantly impacting personal injury (PI) firms – the ‘no win no fee’ conditional fee arrangements are out of the door and referral fees have been banned. Profitability in personal injury cases is falling, prompting many claimant firms to diversify their practice in order to look for new revenue streams.
More than ever, PI firms need to develop a technology-led strategy to deal with the changes that the Jackson Reforms are bringing about as cost budgeting and optimised business efficiency are key to profitability.
Take cost budgeting – according to the new way of working, litigating parties are required to exchange detailed budgets in writing, extending to at least five A4 pages for matters that exceed £25,000. This ‘Precedent H’ encompasses costs for various activities including pre-action, issue of proceedings and pleadings, disclosures, witness statements, expert reports, pre-trial review, trial and settlement discussions through to contingency provision.
Accurately estimating the anticipated costs across the litigation process at the outset of a case is a difficult exercise given the expanse of the different types of PI cases and individual situations. Clearly, while some processes and the corresponding costs will be common and repetitive, others can vary significantly based on the complexity of the case. With the volume of PI cases most firms handle, undertaking manual cost budgeting is almost impossible without fee earners and lawyers spending substantial amounts of time.
Furthermore, optimising resource allocation is fundamental to increasing profitability. While business process automation and workflow are not new to PI firms, the current market dynamics demand a renewed emphasis on these areas in order to navigate one of the biggest market shake-ups in the sector.
A streamlined approach to PI business, underpinned by technology is indispensable today. One of the key objectives of the Jackson Reforms is to strip out bureaucracy and costs, so it is essential that firms adopt a joined-up approach, integrating as many elements of the business to improve end-to-end visibility of how professionals work and to help reduce costly bottlenecks that impact profitability.
Adopting flexible legal process management is an obvious option. The concept is not new, but its relevance and suitability for high volume PI cases is again in focus. Supporting project management tasks with appropriate automation to provide a best practice framework will help deliver a structured approach to scoping, planning, pricing, executing, communicating, monitoring, tracking and completing high numbers of legal matters.
A firm’s choice of system in any volume business will play a major role in helping them achieve this heightened sense of efficiency that the market demands.
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