Most law firms we speak to are trying to decipher how to effect change. Altering the way they operate, developing new business models & revenue streams, undergoing an organisational restructure and merging with other entities, appear to be the most common approaches. But the ‘change’ that they are attempting to engineer through these approaches may not lead to the outcomes they hope to achieve.
Perhaps the one reason why law firms are struggling to execute deep-rooted change is that up until recently, very little altered in the operation of a law firm. New recruits joined law firms and over time adopted the same formulaic approach to business. Consequently, there has been limited experience or enthusiasm for change at the highest levels.
Today, it is imperative that leaders in law firms themselves convincingly exhibit their own appetite for ongoing change and innovation based on substantiated business logic. They must articulate their vision, develop a strategy based on sound business/market insight and create a flexible/agile internal environment to enable that vision. This will help limit resistance to change by employees because they will be able to appreciate the drivers for change and crucially, how the change will benefit them.
Adopting the right technology can facilitate (and even mandate) change by providing efficient and joined-up access to the required business operations. Real-time insight into the firm’s performance – made possible by the interconnected capabilities – can highlight the gaps in expertise and process that may be inhibiting the achievement of business objectives. Furthermore, visibility of health metrics can enable firms to identify areas to drive down costs, create more efficiency, and do things differently. ‘Change’ then becomes routine and the need for it easy to appreciate and compelling.
We believe that a firm-wide technology system offers the best chances of embedding change in a law firm. It reduces the complexity of enterprise management through organisational alignment – a single P&L; seamless work environment across multiple locations; visibility of workforce skills; insight into client, matter and department profitability; view of the firm’s network of contacts; and so on.
Change should not be viewed as a one-off process, but as an iterative and continuous journey of improvement. Setting into motion change initiatives based on new growth strategies or operational improvements is easy. To ensure that they deliver tangible benefits over the long-term requires an underlying, collective change in mind-set, firm-wide capabilities and competencies. Technology can enable this.