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Beyond Benchmarking 09.04.2016

How ambitious is your firm? Are you happy to perform in line with the benchmarks for your peers; are you aiming higher; or is money in fact not your primary purpose? If not, what motivates you? Read more…

The Future for Law Firms 28.01.2016

The drivers identified in this piece of research – namely Globalisation, Technology, Buyer Behaviours, External Investment, and Competition – reflect themes we have been discussing for some years, and in particular since our 2011 report Beyond ABS: The Future for Independent Law Firms. In our report, the key themes we highlighted included deregulation, globalisation and low-cost competition, technology, external capital, delivery, and pricing. It is interesting to note that these factors are still regarded as fundamental challenges for lawyers in the coming years, according to market-wide research. Read more…

Measurement Matters 30.09.2015

Our regular readers will know that one of the management mantras to which we try to adhere is “what gets measured gets better”. For an extreme illustration of thinking underlying this, we only have to look at the recent experiences of Volkswagen diesel cars! What is less often noted is that managers tend to measure the things that they think are important, and that this is driven by the culture and purpose of the business – so there is a cycle whereby culture defines what is measured, which in turn drives the behaviour, which in turn reinforces the culture. Read more…

The Customer Experience 27.05.2015

For some years we have focused on the ‘client journey’ as a way of engaging with the client’s experience with a firm, from first hearing of the firm’s services through to becoming (and remaining) a loyal client. Our firm opinion has always been that, while excellent technical advice should be a given, service is the basis on which many clients will differentiate between firms and ultimately judge the quality of their experience. This will feed through to the bottom line, as retaining an existing client involves a significantly lower financial investment than acquiring a new client. Read more…

Twin Pillars or Foolish Systems? 27.05.2015

It has been said that Warren Buffet has just two rules: rule number one, “don’t lose money”, and rule number two, “never forget rule number one”. Pricing and managing costs in law firms used to be almost this simple. To make a profit firms simply had to divide their annual operating costs by a reasonable estimate of the number of saleable hours, add a generous margin to convert this into a selling price per hour, and be sure to bill consistently. Read more…

Planning for Succession 25.03.2015

Succession planning in law firms is an issue that has long preoccupied senior and managing partners, and it is something with which all firms have had to contend, but the implications – especially for smaller firms – are becoming ever more important for management to address and mitigate. Read more…

Improving Management - Improving Performance 25.03.2015

It is often said that a manager’s role is to get ordinary people to deliver extraordinary results. Managing any business is a challenging occupation, but law firms are not comprised largely of ordinary people – they are often replete with highly intelligent, gifted and sometimes headstrong individuals who by the nature of their work have a high degree of autonomy, and at times including many who have no desire to be managed! Read more…

Two Types of Motivation 24.02.2015

Firms in professional service industries have traditionally focused on what could be described as the avoidance, or mitigation, of pain. Just as a doctor would ask a patient to describe their presenting symptoms, seek to provide a diagnosis of the underlying cause, and prescribe a treatment to alleviate the cause of the suffering, so professionals (including, of course, lawyers) often present themselves as the skilled and experienced diagnostician – dealing not only with symptoms, but with the underlying causes of some malady affecting their client’s personal of professional affairs. Read more…

Uber-fixed Costs 24.02.2015

Our regular readers will be familiar with our analysis of the majority of law firms as overwhelmingly fixed cost operations, and of the imperative for forward-looking firms to inject a far greater degree of flexibility into their cost structures. Given the very high proportion of law firms’ costs that can be attributed to ‘people costs’, introducing more flexibility in the way in which the firm employs its people is something we have long advocated and we believe for many will not be optional in the foreseeable future. Read more…

Still Squeezed in the Middle 27.01.2015

In our 2011 white paper on the future for independent law firms we identified the potential for a “Gastric Band” type squeeze on mid-market law firms – with formidable pressures both from above and below, driven by the ‘three forces’ of deregulation; globalisation and low-cost competition; and technology. The main attention since then from legal market commentators has focused on the threat from below – from new low cost entrants targeting the lower end of the market. Read more…

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