The Law Firm Of The Future

 
 
 
 

The law firm has evolved from a compartmentalized, fluid business unit to a professionally managed corporate entity.

However, there still exists a gap between the domain expertise available with Lawyers in the lawfirm and its managers.

Every module predicted of the future law firm assumes that this bifurcation will continue, and that services will continue to be delivered piecemeal.

It is increasingly evident however, that management knowledge is transferable to lawyers and where combined, dramatically improves firm performance

As we thus move towards a convergent delivery model, where multi skilled professionals deliver answers to legal needs, work in all practice areas will get increasingly standardized, documented and engineered along established management best practice. Where law firms have faced competition from companies, such as in Conveyancing and Personal Injury, this trend is starkly evident.

Those firms who move first to implement this trend will lead the market.

As work is standardized, documented and engineered, the gray area between secretarial work and legal work gets bridged, and only work which requires the innovative application of legal knowledge remains classified as legal work.

With increasing cost pressures, the more a firm restricts its solicitors to deliver legal work, the better it would perform.

Coupled with the need to de-skill work, and to allocate resources appropriately, law firms face a changing communication paradigm.

Law firms have realized the necessity of moving to a decentralized communication approach, where a request for information is quickly acted on and responded to. However, the degree of IT expenditure required in co-coordinating the desperate strands of communication places an excessive burden on medium and small sized law firms. As a result, communication is often conflicting and discordant.

We see the future shaping up to allow small and medium practices access to low priced, centrally managed systems of communication. These can be Call Centers, or in house solutions such as low price licensed CRM.

As the flow of communication becomes systematized, there is ever greater flexibility in how roles are defined, how work flows are set up and the time period over which transactional work is delivered will shrink rapidly.

The firm of the future is thus a controlled domain where skills are segmented, delivery is segmented; communication flows freely, and is monitored, coordinated and updated in centralized warehouses that feed into workflows.

These management level changes will radically change service delivery. Managing client expectations of personalized service and single ownership of their transaction would be difficult. However, these challenges can only be dealt with by further documenting & standardizing work, by further using mechanisms to control and record communication and thus, by further freeing up Solicitors to focus on marketing and relationship building activities.

Redefining Outsourcing

Outsourcing has traditionally been defined in terms of the initial scope of work, laid out by the law firm.

We believe that the Legal environment demands Deep Outsourcing.

Deep Outsourcing does not start with the desire to subcontract routine non-core work, it starts with the desire to make routine non-core work redundant.

Deep Outsourcing does not end its transition phase with the start of operational delivery, it continues to use the methodologies of transition to improve operational delivery, and implement a detailed re-engineering of the outsourced transaction.

Deep Outsourcing allows firms to outsource undocumented, unique and complex processes, while containing risk because it does not treat outsourced delivery as separate from in house delivery, and encourages free backward flow of information.

By following a Deep Outsourcing strategy, the firm stands to gain the benefits of a quick and painless implementation, in addition to the long term gains of re-engineering and standardization, without burdening its core staff.

In order to follow a Deep Outsourcing Strategy, the key consideration would be the Service Provider’s Process Expertise, Domain Expertise and Partnership Strategy.

The re-engineering of legal work requires a studied devotion to efficiency. It requires the implementation of best practices learnt at Japanese shop floors among paralegal staff. The re-engineering of legal work carries a high compliance burden. It requires an agile, ingenuous understanding of the law and the transactional procedure. Lawfirms are typically strapped for management resources, and unless the Service Provider follows a Partnership Strategy of unprompted value addition, Deep Outsourcing does not deliver

In traditional outsourcing, cost savings occur to the tune of 30% - 70%, however, with Deep Outsourcing, these savings are merely the starting point, and growth in savings continues from the improvement in quality and production performance that follows re-engineering and standardization. The incremental approach recommended by Deep Outsourcing ties in with the evolving information flow, and delivers value by capitalizing on incrementally integrating communication.