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Employee lifecycle management – the second plot line in the journey to a connected firm

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In a previous blog I had talked about the importance of putting in place processes to manage the client matter lifecycle as the first step in a firm’s journey towards the ‘connected firm’ nirvana. Fundamental to delivering ‘anything’ in a law firm is of course its human resource (HR) – optimise it and organisations can not only exceed client expectations but also achieve both employee satisfaction & engagement, and profitability.

So how can firms do this? There are two essentials – adoption of strategic HR management processes and actionable data.

Strategic HR management encompasses everything from recruitment and employee on-boarding; resource allocation; skills, talent and appraisal management through to succession planning. To illustrate the need for this approach, take the scenario of skills gaps and requirements. A firm is working on a corporate matter for an international client and finds during the course of execution that there is an immediate need for management expertise, language skills and local awareness to deal with stakeholders in Asia alongside expertise in Chinese law. Rather than being confronted with the issue at the last minute, the ideal situation would be that the firm was able to forecast such personnel and expertise requirements in a timely manner. But to do this, the organisation needs accessible data in order to undertake a skills analysis across the entire firm. Similarly, a firm may need to price a complex matter using a variety of fee arrangements – it can only do this accurately if it has access to historical evidence that shows the skill set needed, at what level, how long will the matter take, estimate of cost versus revenue and so on.

Using technology that makes strategic HR management part of the fabric of the firm and seamlessly links it to the financial function of the organisation is important. Firms can then undertake employee lifecycle management from the day an individual joins the firm – through structured career development, performance management and skills development training – in alignment with both the employee’s personal goals and the business goals of the firm.

Seamlessly interconnecting the HR and financial functions will give firms visibility of how their most expensive and critical resource is being utilised, whether the firm is making money, what permutation and combination can be devised to improve profitability and quality of service, where cost savings can be made and the like. All of this will help the firm deliver a service that exceeds the expectations of its clients, whilst also retaining its best people.

After all, as staff accounts for the highest proportion of cost in law firms, the human resource must be leveraged to the full. And traditionally law firms have not invested enough in their primary resource!

In my next blog, I’ll talk about how business operation can be aligned across matters, resources, practices and departments to create a ‘connected’ firm that thrives on ‘continuous improvement’.

About the Author:

Stu Gooderham leads client engagement for LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions' ERP solution LexisOne in the UK and US markets. Consultative in style, he works closely with law firms to support their decision-making process for the adoption of LexisOne; and remains personally involved in projects from inception through to go-live and beyond. The implementation of LexisOne at Fieldfisher is the most recent example.

With a focus on the Top100 law firms in the UK and the AMLAW 250 in the US, and thriving in client-facing roles, Stu continues to play an instrumental role in educating the legal market on the business benefits of ERP. He was the founding member of the LexisOne Future Insights Group, which saw senior representatives of the Top100 law firms come together to brainstorm and articulate the dynamic nature of demands that clients had of their law firms in the 21st century. He has used the insight gained from this forum to convincingly illustrate to the market how LexisOne is well-placed to overcome many of the common problems faced by law firms – including continuous improvement in customer service levels, client retention, driving new business and always being operationally optimised.

Stu joined LexisNexis Enterprise Solution, following the company's acquisition of Redwood Analytics, a business intelligence software provider.

Prior to these positions, Stu worked at Oracle, selling the Oracle 11i ERP system to the legal market. He is an engineer by training and also has experience in the manufacturing sector.

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