On 6 October 2010 the professional rules of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) were amended to oblige those regulated by the SRA to draw attention to or “signpost” the existence of a new destination for clients’ complaints about their solicitor. It is hardly surprising that with “signposts” in terms of business, on bills and firm’s web sites clients should follow the signs and began to complain, some 35,000 in the first year alone.
LeO eventually resolved to publish the names of those law firms which had been the subject of a decision by LeO since April 2012. The first publication occurred on 17 September 2012 and comprises the names of 772 law firms. There were some 992 decisions, of which 490 (53%) did not lead to a remedy being ordered. Of the 47% which led to a decision the average award was in the band £299-£499.
Name and shame provides those running law firms with a challenge and an opportunity. Whilst the statistics show that, for the most part, law firms provide an excellent service that hard earned reputation may be threatened by publication. The commercial implications of publication should spur managers to create a focus throughout their firms on avoiding complaints which emphasises the importance of treating clients with respect. Even in the best run law firms things do occasionally go wrong and in those cases fee earners need to strive for outcomes which leave no bitter taste and therefore less likely to lead to referral to LeO and the dreaded publication.
Competing with businesses like the Co-Op with a primary focus on the customer experience ensuring their clients are not just satisfied but delighted to have been a client. Law firms must adopt a similar approach and encourage that in all staff at all levels. Publication of complaints should change the focus on complaints handling from reactionary catch up to embedding a pro-active consumer positive attitude in all fee earners. If firms do not change they are likely to find the market has left them behind.
Check out www.timeanddate.com and bookmark it for future reference as this tool will come in very handy for you some time soon.
I guess most of us are dealing more and more with people working in different time zones around the world. This great free tool helps you to convert times, work out what time it is with all your contacts when you’re trying to set up calls or attend webinars .. and much more.
Understanding technology is critical to how law firms can adapt and respond to meet the new demands of clients who want more value for less money; particularly with the increasing variety of legal services options available to choose from.
6 business-relevant CPD points for lawyers involved in management
Lawyers and managers in law firms now need to work hand-in-hand with IT to find new and better ways to improve and support legal services; then to work together to introduce new solutions to capitalise on the significant advances in technology that can open up many new and better options in delivering legal services. This advanced level seminar will give you the opportunity to leap ahead of many competitors not yet prepared to take up the challenges and opportunities that technology can present. Presented in layman’s terms, this master class will enable non-technical lawyers and managers to:
Evaluate and improve the performance of the current IT team;
Communicate more effectively with the IT team to improve results and shorten development time
Recognise and develop new opportunities where IT can add value
Review your IT strategy and its alignment with business strategy
Pre-empt obstacles in planning how best to introduce new IT supported initiatives
Work with and develop the right technology and IT team
Focus on outcomes – what solutions technology can support and deliver
Bridge the gap to integrate legal skills effectively with the IT team.
Integrate your IT team into a broader business development function
Who should attend: Heads of Departments, Managing Partners, Senior Partners, Practice Managers, Practice Directors, Business Development and other managers or anyone else with responsibility for ensuring continued improvement in the delivery of services, performance and productivity of fee earners in law firms.
What You Will Learn: This seminar will cover the following topics:
Why the frustration with IT? – strategies, alignment of the business, piecemeal development, issues with suppliers and more;
Impact of New Business Drivers on IT – mergers/acquisitions, the role of IT, implications of external investment, secure hosted, cloud and managed IT solutions, demand for legal knowledge;
Key technology developments – Opportunities;
New priorities lining up – ISO 27001 – data security;
The Changing role of the IT team – managing the IT function, business development, recruiting the right team, focus on business process, understanding outsourcing, practical project management;
Redefining IT strategy into practice – where to start? Key components – infrastructure and applications, management information, CRM, workflow;
Getting focused on the best IT opportunities (practical exercise) – barriers and obstacles and how to address them and much more.
Presenter:Allan Carton Solicitor, MBA, MD at Inpractice UK. Inpractice UK is a multidisciplinary team of specialist consultants working with a wide variety of legal practices to develop new business opportunities, where most initiatives, that range from HR and IT to client experience management, benefit from the more effective development of IT introduced in this seminar.
Interesting to see this happen – not just because of the money, but for the added expertise and objective commercial perspective on the management board. All part of the trend and good for us (and our clients) as we are seeing more legal practices recognise that working this closely with people like us can help open up new opportunities. It helps hugely to get the balance of priorities and focus right and to keep the business on track.
DRAGONS’ DEN star James Caan has invested in a North Staffordshire law firm.
The entrepreneur’s private equity company Hamilton Bradshaw has injected an undeclared amount of cash into the Newcastle Under Lyme firm Knights which focuses on corporate, commercial and real estate work. Caan, who was one of the Dragons on BBC 2′s Dragons’ Den until he quit in 2011, will now sit on the firm’s board.
Knights, which draws much of its business from work outsourced by City firms, claims the deal is the UK’s first private investment into a commercial law firm. The firm says it will use the cash injection to invest in IT and to help to fulfil its ambition of breaking into the top 100 UK firms within three years. Knights – which has been led by managing partner David Beech since 2011 – was established in1759 and has 23 partners and 150 staff operating from offices in Staffordshire, Cheshire and Gloucestershire.
Caan said: “This is a very exciting business for HB to invest in. HB backs talented management and I am confident David will execute his strategy for growth. “The legal sector is undergoing significant change and consolidation. Knights is an excellent firm which has proven management and financial backing to scale its business and position itself in the top 100 UK law firms.
“I am very focused on people-based businesses and Knights stood out as a business with a highly talented team.” Beech said: “We met with several investors to work with us on our future expansion. “What stood out about HB was the fact that they don’t just bring capital, they also bring an incredibly talented team on board who will support our business to achieve its ambition to become a leading regional law firm and cost solution to London.”
ACCOUNTANCY firm RSM Tenon has seen a drop in revenues and an increase in debts but insists the underlying business remains resilient in a “challenging market”. The firm, which has a number of offices in the North West including a large operations in Manchester, Preston and Chorley, saw its chief executive Andy Raynor axed at the end of January as a result of “disappointing” financial performance. Now with the release of its interim results for the six months to the end of 2011, the size of the task facing his successor Chris Merry has become apparent. Revenue is down 9.3% to £107.8m and net debt is now £76.5m compared to the 2010 figure of £73.3m.
The firm also reports a loss on continuing operations of £70.6m after impairment of goodwill of £60.7m. On the plus side the firm says it has agreed in principle bank facilities of £88m to October 2012 and is having positive negotiations regarding long-term funding. Chairman Adrian Martin said: “Significant progress has been made since our 23 January 2012 trading update.
The financial review has been completed, the prior year accounts restated, funding is in place to October and a new CEO has been appointed. Our executive team is fully focused on restoring the business to profitability.” Merry added: “Our underlying business performance has been resilient in the face of a tough market environment. We have a clear action plan to drive near- term profitability and cash generation. “The majority of our revenues and cash generation arise in the second half of our financial year and this trend is set to continue. RSM Tenon is fundamentally a sound business. It now has a solid base to build for the future and to deliver an appropriate return for shareholders.”
If you’re on LinkedIn, it’s worth checking out the comments in this discussion about first steps in introducing lean business processes. For us, getting leadership from the top and engagement with the people doing the work are the key to implementing lean, focused on improving the working environment, reducing stress, reducing costs and delivering better value to clients.
Some slides here from enlightening research by the Financial Times and Managing Partner Forum comparing the perceptions of 433 senior execs in law firms and their clients – many of which don’t marry up well; confirming conclusions in a lot of the research we do for law firms in this area.
The report on research findings and presentation identify areas of opportunity for legal practices prepared to be proactive in getting closer to matching what clients really want in their practice. Good information to work on here to help retain and grow business from existing clients; also to target the weaknesses of other legal practices that many be complacent about their clients’ changing requirements. Well worth reading the full report – but don’t just read it … act on it now.
The presentations provide a good snapshot you can share. Get to know what keeps your client CEO’s awake at night and get your IT people talking to their IT people .. for starters. The “JFDI” principle applies to get moving on relationships sooner. Don’t think too deeply about it before you start talking because you never know where a discussion will take you until you get started.