David Eveleigh GC at Serco with a frank assessment of where lawyers – in-house and private practice – need to improve and develop. More focused on process; better understanding and focus on what needs to be delivered for the business. His interesting take on lawyer “pull” and not enough “push” to get to know the business feels about right.
Good insight too on how to remunerate to motivate to develop people and culture with the right priorities going forwards.
Fixed fee commercial Litigation from Irwin Mitchell – sounds attractive to clients but isn’t this what all litigators are/should be doing? Need engaged people to understand and deliver; but also good process, time records project and risk management to deliver … but why not?
“Upon instruction the firm will analyse the likely legal fees to be incurred by the client and then, in conjunction with expert law costs draftsmen, prepare a proposed fixed fee for each stage of the litigation process, including solicitors’, expert witnesses’, and counsel’s fees.”
THE top 100 UK law firms achieved a fee income increase of 6.1%, compared with the same quarter last year, largely driven by merger activity in the last 12 months.
According to the latest quarterly legal sector survey from Deloitte, this quarter saw differing levels of performance in the market with firms in the 11-25 category achieving an average growth in fee income of 6.2% while those in the top 10 suffered a reduction of 2.7%.
The strong performance for firms in the 11-25 category was achieved through increases in chargeable hours per fee earner of 3.5% and some improvements in rates. The reduction in the 1-10 category was due to a 2.1% decrease in fee earner headcount and a decline in the sterling rates achieved as a consequence of the strong pound.
Clare Boardman, partner in Deloitte’s professional practices team in Yorkshire & the North East, said: “The market for firms in the 26-100 size category continues to be tough with growth coming from mergers and lateral hires rather than increases in use or rates. While exchange rate movements have hit the global firms this quarter, we would expect the performance of the top 25 firms to improve as the economy picks up. This will continue to widen the gap in underlying performance between the larger and smaller firms.”
To find some of the solutions that help mid-size law firms perform better, go here >>
To stay ahead, offer clients what they want … before they know they want it! But you have to tease it out of them; where is their business going, what does success look like for them them personally and for the business? How do they use technology? What options are they exploring now to develop in the future? Make sure they know that you want to share their journey and are prepared to change what you do to work with them strategically.
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.
Two stories I thought you might like to be aware of that demonstrate how law firms are increasingly getting focused on improving processes, aiming to deliver better value to clients:
Legal Talk Network – Talking Legal Evolution – Innovations’ Pace In the Legal Industry – this one is from the States and reviews a number of the recent legal conferences that have taken place. From about 9 mins 30 secs in there is a good conversation about Legal Process Management, Mapping & Improvement, how it affects larger firms and will permeate down to small firms. It is a podcast so you’ll need speakers turned up/headphones on.
BLP Integrates Key Elements of City Law Firm Innovation – this story talks about the opening of an office in Manchester, to develop a shared service hub and the introduction of a number of services including Legal Process Improvement. It mentions that the team at BLP have mapped 60 workflows and are offering to do the same for clients.
As the economy picks up again, we can expect to see conveyancing transactions grow quickly, so there is good business to be had here. Not a lot has changed in terms of how lawyers sell their conveyancing services since the crash, but introducing improvements here will result in more business – here are just a few key areas where new focus will make a difference.
Although a lot of knowledge and skills have been lost because many experienced conveyancers moved to other areas of work when the property market collapsed, there is an opportunity now for new recruits to learn new and better ways of working.
The findings from this (estate agency focused) research should help you refocus on the key initiatives you ought to be implementing now to develop a successful conveyancing practice fit for today:
Just 18% of homebuyers based their choice on getting the lowest price. 82% were more concerned about other aspects of service. Not a surprise; our research since 2000 has always shown this to be the case.
78% would recommend the conveyancer they used to a friend – but only 14% did. (i.e. choose based on a recommendation from a friend!) Conveyancers are still missing out badly here!
38% particularly valued a conveyancer who keeps in touch once a week.
Just 31% chose a conveyancer they had used before (4% less than the previous year, so conveyancers are not improving). This is very poor for the solicitors that 69% used previously! From these results, conveyancers can to a lot better by being more proactive in developing and maintaining relationships; and it doesn’t take much to make a big difference.
68% of home buyers would consider using a conveyancer recommended by their estate agent – not a surprise as estate agents make it easy to ask the question.
46% chose the conveyancer recommended by their estate agent – a 5% increase on last year. If conveyancers were proactive, this could be a much lower figure.
These are the results from credible, extensive research carried out by the Property Academy in association with the TM Group with more than 4700 consumers across England and Wales took part.
Prioritise getting to know your client and their situation from the outset – don’t just focus on the legal transaction; a huge failing before the recession and it hasn’t changed much. Ensure that how you are set up and how people work prompts discussion outside what is just essential to get the job done.
Get the technology and systems in place to streamline your work and leave time for communication with clients (and other parties e.g. estate agents who want to promote your services)
Work on your database and relationships with clients after the legal work has been completed, to make sure they don’t forget you.
Help to let the personality of your people stand out so that their clients recommend them (and the practice) to friends for conveyancing work – and in other areas.
Help your conveyancers understand how to sell your services.
Review your systems for handling enquiries to make sure you are following up as effectively as you can on every one of them – via the telephone, from the web, recommendations to make sure you don’t lose opportunities; most firms do.
You can obtain a full copy of the research report here.