Tag Archives: Improvement

Three Boxes: a Clear Strategy to lead effective innovation in your legal practice.

Well worth watching.  Simple and rational – but I hadn’t looked at this clearly before.

At a time when the most successful lawyers will be those that become more pro-active in developing innovative ways of delivering legal services that give clients and business partners more value from using legal services … here is an interesting way to structure your thinking.  It should help you create more thinking time about new services, while also getting on with running the current business.

With this clarity, there is a better chance of making it happen!

To Innovate, You Have to Manage the Past, Present, and Future

FREE DOWNLOAD: New 2015 Financial Benchmarking Report from NatWest on UK Law Firms

NatWestWell worth reading so you can draw your own conclusions on key areas of interest to you.  It’s easy to read and there is a lot of valuable information here to let you compare how your practice is faring with others like you; also highlighting how you might be able to do better.  We can help you make some of the changes that make a significant impact on bottom line profits.

The survey is a substantial review of law firms with fee income of up to £35 million. From across England, Wales and Scotland, 339 firms, employing 15,200 people, took part in the survey.

Download the 2015 report here.

Key questions asked here that the findings and conclusions can help you answer in relation to your practice:

Fees

  1. What do we need to do to enable fee earners to become more productive?
  2. Are we training our fee earners properly so that they maximise their fee earning potential?
  3. Are we confident about our pricing, and can we charge more if we get the service right?

Profit

  1. Have we benchmarked our performance against comparable firms and have we identified where we are below the upper quartile point?
  2. Are we under-recording how we spend our time and therefore not showing clients the full extent of our efforts?
  3. How can we get a better rate per hour for what we do, and do we understand creative fees?
  4. Do we use matter planning tools which help us to understand the profitability of the work we are doing?
  5. Do we have a clear strategy?

Lock-up

  1. Given that clients don’t want nasty shocks when they are billed, why do we wait so long before we talk about money?
  2. Do fee earners have the necessary management information available to manage lock-up?
  3. Are the appropriate ‘carrots and sticks’ in place to deliver improved lock-up?

Finance

  1. Do we have sufficient capital to run the business now, and will we need more capital if the firm grows again?
  2. Is it time to look again at our legal structure and how capital is to be retained within the firm?
  3. Is it right that we aim to fully distribute profits?
  4. Do we need to reconsider how quickly new partners are asked to contribute capital and how quickly departing partners can extract their capital?

For a complete picture and recent trends, you can also download previous reports below for:

Call us on 0161 929 8355 or complete this form if you want us to help you identify AND IMPLEMENT ways to improve the performance of your practice.

WildHearts – The Red Nose of the Business World.

Wild Hearts - Business for GoodYou’ve seen a lot about Red Nose day, but do you know about WildHearts, an international initiative to help people in business raise money for a great cause in the developing world; specifically to support women and their families to lift themselves out of poverty.  Check out the many videos to see how this works in practice.  Then contact WildHearts to see how you can get your people involved in November this year … for starters.

Motivate your people to discover their ability to innovate.

Micro-Tyco is Just one of their Wild Heart initiatives that has run since 2010.  A challenge to raise money for good causes across the world, that you and your employees could enjoy taking part in, whatever size your business.  Deloitte, Pinsents and CapGemini are some of the larger professional practices taking part, but this can motivate, inspire and reward people at any law firm.  Getting involved will help your people to discover, apply and develop their skills and ability to innovate, raising a lot of money for some exceptional causes.

Get involved now to be ready for the next challenge to be launched in November 2015.

Micro-Tyco is an award-winning talent development programme that has been adopted by many schools and businesses – including law firms like Pinsents, Harper McLeod and Linklaters – to enable their employees to develop and demonstrate their ability to innovate, with the money raised then invested in microfinance projects in the developing world, helping to lift thousands of female entrepreneurs and their families out of poverty.

Contact Charlie Thornton: charlie@wildheartsinaction.org or call +44 (0)7792 185754

Micro-Tyco has been so successful that it has been adopted as a compulsory part of graduate training for multi-nationals such as Wood Group, RBS and Capgemini; also used by Deloitte as a talent identification strategy in UK universities and many companies like Clydesdale Bank, British Gas and NG Bailey use Micro-Tyco as an executive development programme.

What is Micro-Tyco?

The Task:  It is deceptively simple –  teams of up to 5 people receive £1 on taking up the challenge on 1st February and 1st November each year.  They then have 30 days to do whatever they can to turn that £1 into as much money as possible.

The Motivation:  All the money created invested in micro-finance projects around the world, to empower female entrepreneurs and help them lift their families out of poverty.

The Results:  Micro-Tyco unleashes a participant’s latent talents, fostering essential entrepreneurial thinking, resourcefulness and team work.  To help participants develop and grow their pound further, teams receive world class business training via video from the Micro-Tyco Mentors, including Sir Tom Hunter and Lord Digby Jones and are given access to online learning resources to help support them on their entrepreneurial journey.

Over the last three years, over 22,000 participants have been inspired to learn the latest entrepreneurial thinking via the multi-award winning professional development programme Micro-Tyco. Endorsed by Babson College, the world’s number one school for entrepreneurship,

Micro-Tyco has proven to be so inspirational that over £600,000 has been created by the teams and invested by WildHearts in microfinance globally. By ‘becoming Entrepreneurs to fund Entrepreneurs’, participants gain a deep experiential knowledge of the transformative power of compassionate entrepreneurship. WildHearts also invest significantly in UK education; providing enterprise education, training and events to school pupils across the country and helping young people into employment (more info below). By associating business excellence with economic justice, Micro-Tyco inspires the Leaders Our World Deserves.

To give you an idea of the impact of  Micro-Tyco, please take just seven minutes to watch the short videos below.

Video (2mins) – How Micro-Tyco has revolutionised Deloitte, RBS and Wood Group’s Talent Strategy from the Heads of Talent

Video (2 mins) – How Micro-Tyco helps talent to emerge (Graduate from Talisman Sinopec Energy explains how Micro-Tyco led to her promotion)

Video (1 min) – Ugandan microfinance client whose family’s future has been transformed by her £100 WildHearts microloan

Video (2 min 20) – The impact of Micro-Tyco on School Children (very funny!)


For more information, contact:  Charlie Thornton at Micro-Tyco & WildHearts at charlie@wildheartsinaction.org or on +44 (0)7792 185754


 

Tackling Smiling Assassins – Clients not bothered enough to complain to you … but they do to everyone else?

Beware the “Smiling assassins” i.e. the dissatisfied client who says nothing but tells all his/her work colleagues, business network and family what a tough time they had dealing with your lawyers.  They are a very dangerous animal. 

A report from the Legal Services Consumer Panel on recent research suggests that 44% of people dissatisfied with legal services don’t complain, compared with just 27% in the services sector overall.  As with any statistics, the numbers can be challenged and interpreted in different ways; but however you read this, it is a significant number.

The good news in the survey is that overall levels of satisfaction with legal services are holding steady, at 79%. Levels of public trust are also up, with 43% of the public trusting lawyers to tell the truth, up from 42% last year. In this league lawyers rank behind doctors and teachers but marginally ahead of accountants and well ahead of bankers.

The challenge here is to find ways to talk to or get feedback from the silent clients “in the middle”.   Not just the clients prepared to sing your praises and those keen to make a complaint but those who are suffering in silence … and you don’t know that you should be doing something about it.  Until you do, they will keep damaging your reputation.

We can help.

What motivates your lawyers? Why we think it matters when introducing process improvements.

Adopting lean thinking to improve legal and business process, to add value to services and reduce operating costs, is as much about engaging people as it is about “Value Stream Mapping”.  You improve the performance of your business because people engage in working smarter. It may be hard work, but they understand why they are doing it.

Some hard facts here from Dan Pink that I explore in our in-house Introductory workshop for senior managers to help those involved in senior management to understand how engaging employees through lean and in other ways motivates them to perform better.  It’s not all about more money.

 

Find more information here on our introductory programmes or speak to me, Mark Greenhouse on 0161 929 8355.

How do I overcome limited adoption of CRM by fee earners?

Scrabble Are You ReadyYou can probably imagine the scenario and you’ve have probably been there already as this is an ongoing dilemma … so what do you do about it?

To check if you qualify for our FREE in-house Client Relationship (CRM) Workshop for your team at your offices CALL Allan Carton or Nathan Smith, or call 0161 929 8355.

Increasing competition within the legal industry has increased the cost of acquiring new clients, forcing you to ensure you maximise the value of each client over and above the cost of acquisition. You’ve invested in CRM to help you increase client value, but it’s not being used to its full potential. Why? Because fee earners within your organisation are not adapting to the new technology or are delegating responsibility to secretaries.

They want to maximise billing time and, for those in your company that are willing to use your CRM system, tasks deemed as administrative are being delegated to secretaries. Yet, secretaries are not the best people to capture information within a CRM system and this often leads to information getting lost somewhere in the process. The fee earners then question the value of CRM and continue to resist, leaving you with an investment that is not being utilised properly. How do you break this cycle?

At Crimson (Inpractice UK’s technology implementation partners for Microsoft CRM in law firms), we come across this issue a lot across a variety of business sectors, which is why we have tailored our own user adoption programme working with Inpractice UK for legal firms. This includes a suite of tools, training, consulting and technology that breaks the deadlock, helping both fee earners and partners realise CRM’s true benefit. More on that later, but what else can you do to enhance user adoption of your CRM solution?

Here are a few of our tips from our approach to implementing CRM in legal practices:

5. Change how you think, not necessarily how you work – You need to help fee earners and partners change the way they think about CRM.  It’s not simply an IT investment that has been brought in to increase client value. It’s a business critical system that will enhance client relationships across the business. Sit down with those resisting the new system and go through what they currently do now (and don’t do) to increase the value of the legal service they provide. How are they identifying the opportunities for upselling your firm’s services across a range to existing clients?  How are they keeping track of what support clients are currently receiving – not just from them but also from others in your practice? It is likely they will have out of date information, or inconsistencies in their data because they have not been updating it regularly. Make them aware that CRM does this for them in order to get them more on board.

4. Celebrate CRM successes, big and small – Case studies are the best marketing tool you can use for CRM. Celebrate every success and the benefits that CRM delivers, however big or small. Demonstrate to fee earners and partners that CRM makes a difference to make their life better; that what is being done is providing clear and compelling benefits demonstrating in the real world that it is a useful investment when utilised properly.

3. Reward early adopters – Those partners who do adopt CRM from an early stage need to be praised and rewarded. Make an example of them so that those who are resisting the system are encouraged to adopt it more quickly.

2.  Review the system – Conduct frequent audits and review progress of your CRM system.  Identify areas where it could be better utilised and relay this information back to fee earners, to encourage their adoption. Often if you can attribute a benefit to user adoption and show how this is affecting current usage of CRM, fee earners will think twice about resisting.

1. Ask us for help – We have developed a number of accelerators for legal firms that minimise data entry for fee earners, while radically increasing the amount of valuable data gathered. My-CRM is our user adoption programme that we have tailored for legal firms to address the issues associated with manual data entry. It combines tools, training, consulting and technology to help fee earners and partners realise the true benefits of CRM, enhancing user adoption and helping to increase client value. 

For starters – you need to define, agree and communicate a structured plan to do something; probably as a pilot with a small number of users at the outset.  Keep it manageable from the outset.

We start by exploring the strategy of your organisation and understanding what your vision is and what you expect to achieve with your CRM system. We then work with management to help them align their business processes with the CRM system. Understanding the demands on management helps us to identify opportunities for streamlining workflow and supporting management decision making.

We work very hard throughout to motivate users and keep them actively engaged in CRM to increase adoption within a practice. It’s because we understand the challenges facing the legal sector that we have been able to develop this suite of tools that can ultimately help legal firms to realise on average, a four per cent rise in overall profits.

To explore how this can work for your practice, contact either Allan Carton on 0161 929 8355 or Nathan Smith on  01675 466 477 to discuss your particular situation in confidence and without obligation.

We may be able to run a FREE workshop to explore options with your senior management team to help you get a clear view on what you want to achieve with CRM and how to set about doing it the right way.

Significant Changes in the Legal Market coming through.

MergerThe stats quoted in this article from the SRA – where they express their concern about the risks involved as firms go through the transition (which we can help you to minimise and address) demonstrate the impact of commercial and regulatory changes that are re-shaping your market and your competition:

  • The proportion of firms remaining as sole practitioners in 2013 was 29%, down from 41% in 2006.  That’s a big change from a position that has actually remained fairly static until the last 12 months.
  • The top-10 conveyancing firms increased from 5.3% to 10.3% between 2010 and 2012, which is highly significant now that the property market has taken off again; but well organised more widely based practices, with good people management, processes, sales and client relationship skills are doing well now, as there’s (sometimes more than) enough work around.  The challenge is to get these components of the business right.
  • 42% of the top-50 firms considering a merger to be very or fairly likely by 2016.

The Article:  Merger rush presents new risks, say SRA

Are you doing enough to make the most of the opportunities here?  And can we help?

Allan Carton