How firms stand out amongst a variety of competition is a topic that law firms need to continue to address according to the discussion during a panel of Thomson Reuters executives at this week’s VANTAGE 2019 Worldwide Conference. Firms of all sizes must seize opportunities to become more efficient and differentiate themselves from a crowded field.

Speaking specifically about mid-size firms, Barb McGivern, general manager of the mid-size segment, said they face the same challenges all firms face — finding new growth pathways, attracting and retaining talent, and providing the best service to their clients, while maximizing profitability. “I believe technology is the answer to lots of these concerns. A mid-size firm can be more nimble than a large firm and they have more resources than a small firm. Our team is focused on helping mid-size firms unlock your own data to inform your decisions.”

For the largest of firms, competition comes in all forms, according to Neil Sternthal, general manager of large and global law firms.  This includes unconventional competitors like the Big 4 professional services firms which bring skills expertise and investment capital, as well as their own clients. In addition, in-house counsel have increased abilities, capabilities and commercial acumen. Large firms are also in competition for attracting talent, including people who specialize in pricing, technology and other non-traditional legal fields.

Andy Martens, head of product management and editorial, expanded on ideas introduced in the morning’s keynote session by discussing how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can help firms stay competitive. “We want to take steps out of the routine, low value processes so that lawyers can focus on higher level work. Thomson Reuters is intensely focused on this area, and I think we are uniquely well-positioned to take advantage of these evolving capabilities. We have the domain expertise, rich data and technology expertise to make a difference.”

Sternthal shared a comment he heard from a customer advisory board that new products must be designed to integrate into the natural ways of a legal professional’s thinking as they pursue their work. “Making the steps faster and simpler within the existing workflow will increase efficiency.” Martens further commented that throughout all the things legal professionals do – legal research, advising clients, drafting and managing contracts, pricing matters, etc, — there is a huge opportunity to make the front office and back office work better together. “We want all our capabilities to work better together with both improved integration and by enhancing our core capabilities.”