Law Firm Leaders Forum: The changing nature of the legal process
The legal marketplace continues to evolve, creating various models and opportunities for the legal process to be delivered. The various methods impact personnel, costs, quality, job performance and career growth. A recent panel at the 19th annual Law Firm Leaders Forum, hosted by Thomson Reuters, addressed these and other issues surrounding the changing nature of the legal process.
Contrary to what has been stated over recent years, the panel noted that demand for legal services is up, but much of the work in the legal industry is not necessarily related to the practice of law. As the market continues to thrive, firms have an opportunity to focus on what they want to pursue, as well as form collaborative partnerships with specialists or alternative service providers (ASP) that may be able to do certain tasks within the legal workflow better, faster and cheaper.
Focusing on various resources and ASPs, the panel highlighted how collaboration, efficiency and quality can improve the legal work provided to clients. Some items noted included eliminating avoidable waste, such as duplicative work by multiple attorneys or legal professionals within the workflow, and providing a new lens to view data related to the matter for which the work is being done.
Additionally, insight was provided around the view of in-house counsel seeking ways to strengthen the relationship with firms and making certain the firms had a handle on the needs of the client. As in-house counsel may ask for alternative fee arrangements (AFA), they may not be seeking drastic rate reductions or blended rates, but seeking more predictability, certainty and transparency. This has largely come about as legal departments face the same expectations of any other department within the company to drive costs down. Firms can benefit by working with their clients to continually evaluate work, staff, partners and more to maintain and improve efficiency, thus keeping costs aligned while strengthening the relationship.
The panel concluded by noting that the best value doesn’t always mean being the lowest cost. By having personnel with multi-dimensional skill sets, understanding and implementing technology, and enhancing collaboration, firms can continue to analyze and improve processes to strengthen their relationships, reduce costs and enhance quality of service to their clients.