Legal Services 2020

Foxtons branch - future of retail legal services? How will the legal services market look in 10 years time?

I’m placing my bets now:

  • Four or five big players dominating the retail market. Some will have a high street presence. Some will be virtual-only operations, serving clients via the Internet and telephone. Most will provide 24-hour service, and there will be an almost exclusive focus on legal products, as opposed to one-to-one consultation and hourly billing used primarily today. There will be a huge range of products at varying price points to suit every pocket.
  • The middle market will be decimated. The midsize, generalist, regional law firms of today will be hit savagely. Most if not all will be gone. Any that do survive will be struggling along, fighting for a diminishing client base of OAPs and technological refusniks.
  • A booming market of boutique law firms – niche players that have found an area in which they can become ‘famous’ as experts, or areas of law too small, or too risky (from a brand and image point of view) that will make the big players avoid them. Some smart firms are starting to head down this path today. Lots more will spring up as many laid-off ex-middle market lawyers use redundancy payments to start their own boutique firm.

Do you agree? One thing is for sure – the future will not be boring!

Who Will Save Us?

Who will save book publishing?

What will save the newspapers?

What means ‘save’?

If by save you mean, "what will keep things just as they are?" then the answer is nothing will. It’s over.

We need to get past this idea of saving, because the status quo is leaving the building, and quickly. Not just in print of course, but in your industry too.

This recent Seth Godin’s post struck me in sharp contrast to the Legal IT Show last week. where the mood seemed to be ‘if we ignore the Legal Services Act, maybe it won’t happen’. Indeed at least a couple of people I spoke to seemed to be pinning their hopes on a future Conservative government changing the legislation. Really? Since when have the Tories been in favour of less competition and against free markets?

The similarities between legal and publishing industries have been pointed out before. The publishing industry is in disarray. But law firms have an advantage… they can look back at what has happened to the publishing industry, and learn from their mistakes.

The reality is that the Legal Services Act is coming. More competition is coming. And there will be both winners and losers.

Seth finishes his post:

Every revolution destroys the average middle first and most savagely.

How will you avoid being average? What can you learn from the publishing industry? How will you make sure your firm is a winner?

What does Knowledge Management mean to your firm?

Knowledge Management for me should be about enabling employees to make better, more informed decisions, more quickly.

What that means specifically will depend on how it is applied to your business, but for example could mean things like:

  • Faster response times to client queries
  • Lower skilled/paid staff are able to answer simple client queries freeing up more of the senior staff’s time to add real value
  • Service delivery is of a consistently high standard as best-practices are captured and followed
  • The firm’s risk profile is reduced as staff are less likely to make poor decisions
  • Staff can demonstrate, and be recognised for, their expertise across the whole firm, encouraging staff loyalty and a sense of belonging

Are you getting those benefits from your KM system?

First Impressions from Legal IT Show 2010

Just back from Legal IT Show 2010… Here are my first impressions:

  • Number of stands down around 30-40% on last year.
  • Visitor numbers seemed low. I think there were more staff on the stands than visitors walking around the exhibition space for most of the day.
  • Where were the thought leaders? Conference sessions/keynotes were simply uninspiring. Example quotes from IT Directors on stage:
    • “We are looking at alternatives to the billable hour… but only because we have to” – huh? so much for being client centric. Sounds more like clients are seen as an inconvenience!
    • “Don’t see the business value in Social Media” – Try listening to what Brian Inkster or Chris Sherliker have to say about how their firms benefit from social media. (If you want to know more about social media for law firms, check this out)
    • “Biggest problem facing us this year is getting budget” – Where’s the business focus, the understanding of the market place? Stop thinking of IT as a cost centre and start thinking of of it as a strategic resource to drive your business forward for the next 10 years.
  • Most roundtable sessions were empty. The exception was the Legal Services Act roundtable, but vendors outnumbered legal folk 3:1 there. Not sure what to make of that. Heads in the sand or not interested because strategies are all already in place?

Did you go to the Legal IT Show this year? What did you think?

Legal IT Show Tweetup

The Elk in The WoodsIf you tweet, are interested in Legal technology, and are in London on Wed 10 February, come and join the Legal IT Show Tweetup. We’re hosting an informal gathering of tweeters starting from 5pm at The Elk in The Woods, right opposite the show venue. (And you don’t need to be coming to the show itself to join in).

The Elk In The Woods
39 Camden Passage

 map
[Click image for larger map]

P.S. We’ll be tweeting using the hashtag #LITS on the day and in the run-up to the event.
P.P.S. I know other hashtags have already been suggested, but we think #LITS will give us more room to put useful content in our tweets.

Web Favourites Jan 29 2010

This post is part of a weekly/bi-weekly roundup of things that I read and found interesting. There won’t be a lot of comment from me, but hopefully you will find the links useful. Enjoy!

Interesting stuff I came across this week:

Tesco Law V Brand Solicitor – “Law firms need to be thinking about the outward facing solution because when I read legal technology sites they seem to go on about internal use. The future is "social" and what that means is turning your websites to point at clients so they can engage and transact with you.”

Consumerization of IT Executive Briefing – “”Designed for enterprise executives, this fully scripted presentation introduces Microsoft’s vision for how organizations can reap the benefits of the consumerization of IT”

Stop Trying To Be Better Than the Competition – “Creating your own special way to treat customers, creating an experience that’s unique, or creating a totally new and frictionless way for people to get a result is how you stand out from the pack, it’s how you create a difference that can’t be easily copied, and it’s how innovation comes to small business. Instead of spending your precious R&D time on product features, spend it on creating branded intellectual property, a distinct way of marketing, or on developing people and culture inside your organization that enables you to be seen as different”

Office 2010 System Requirements

Minimum CPU and  RAM requirements are unchanged from Office 2007, but the footprint of most Office applications have gotten larger. Most standalone application disk-space requirements have gone up by 0.5 GB and the suites have increased by 1.0 or 1.5 GB.

So in short, if your PC can run Office 2007, it will be able to run Office 2010. If you just acquired a brand new PC, it also will be able to run the forthcoming suite. But if you’re using Office 2003, there are no guarantees you’ll automatically be able to run Office 2010 on the same hardware.

The 32-bit version of Office 2010 will run on the following 32-bit operating systems: XP with Service Pack (SP)3, Vista SP1, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2003 R2 (with MS XML). The 64-bit version will run on on 64-bit versions of all of these same operating systems, with the exception of Windows Server 2003 R2.

via Mary Jo Foley

9 How UK Lawyers Are Using Social Media

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If you are a UK lawyer looking to grow your practice through social media then one of the best things you can do is learn from those trailblazers that have gone before you and successfully used social media in their law firms.

This article is a transcript of a web conference on the topic of social media for law firms hosted by Adrian Dayton (@adriandayton) with the UK’s two most prolific legal Twitter users, Brian Inkster (@brianinkster) and Chris Sherliker (@London_Law_Firm). Also on the call was social media marketer Rory Webber (@MrRX).

These are our notes. Enjoy…

Making Connections… Building Relationships

Chris: Twitter is a process in which you engage… It’s about building relationships… We have found clients from Twitter including a major client who then went on to became a supplier… They then also referred us to a large telecoms client

Adrian: It’s a giant cocktail party, and it requires you to step into the circle to engage

Brian: We haven’t received any direct client work, but I have been interviewed by the press several times as a result of being on Twitter, including today… Was interviewed by The Metro on topic of social media and property. This of course can raise the profile of the law firm, and it’s not impossible that tomorrow we could get enquiries after people read the Metro article

Adrian: Twitter is about instant real-time conversation… You can join any conversation internationally and make international connections

Chris: Our firm is active in the USA, but not Turkey, and through Twitter we have met @turkish_lawyer, got to know him, and as a consequence have referred work to him and received referrals from him

Adrian: This is the death of the cold call… There’s no reason to make them any more… You can build relationships first

Making Time for Twitter

Brian: It is called social media. I tend to do it in the evening or first thing in morning.

Chris: It fit it into my normal routine… 95% of tweets are from my iPhone… e.g. while waiting for taxi. It makes use of moments where I wouldn’t be able to do much else

What About ROI?

Chris: I think of Twitter as a way of finding people to provide services to, and people to provide services to me… It’s a very time efficient way to sell. We have benefited from that, but equally have met people who have since provided professional development services to our firm, and people who are building our blogs

Brian: Taking the relationship outside of Twitter is what really brings the benefits… But don’t forget it’s fun… It’s social media.. . It’s fun for me… If business comes out of it, great, but that’s not the key priority

Chris: When people talk ROI, one of the things they should also remember is that Twitter is completely free. And that effectively I have had something like 7,000 free adverts. The only investment you have to make is time and you don’t have to spend ages in Twitter

Adrian: I find it useful to organise meetings through Twitter ahead of conferences… So I have a jump start on other people attending

Getting the Mix Right

Adrian: Twitter is a great way to meet other fascinating people… But the perception in the US is that UK lawyers are more serious…

Brian: Not a huge number of UK lawyers using Twitter yet, and between those on the call, we probably know all of them. Firm accounts don’t work in the same way as personal ones, and you really need individuals or groups of individuals to make the interaction work on Twitter

Chris: I send out a mix of tweets from serious legal matters to how to make the perfect cocktail… and that seems to work well for me

Brian: We originally started with a company Twitter account, but switched to personal account… Going back to the cocktail party analogy, I realised you need to be a person to go to a cocktail party

Adrian: No one wants to hire a law firm; they want to hire a person they like

Getting Started

Chris: When you first register, it asks you the question what are you doing right now? I quickly realised no-one wants to know. People are more interested in getting to know people. There is a marketing adage that people only buy from people the know, like and trust. Otherwise they are not going to instruct you.

Rory:  People need to get connected then listen and learn. In the modern age listening is reading, and speaking is writing… When you first join you should spend more time listening than speaking… When I first joined Twitter i spent first couple of weeks ‘listening’ before joining the conversation

Chris: It takes a while to convince others to use social media. When I first started everyone thought I was mad. Now we have four partners using Twitter in the company

Adrian: It’s important to find right champions in your firm. Companies often leave it to juniors, and this isn’t always the right thing to do. Chris is using the tools better than many younger professionals… You need more experienced attorneys that add value… It’s about growing relationships and then taking them to the next level such as lunch or coffee

What Does the Future Hold?

Chris: With the upcoming Legal Services Act, and hence non-lawyers and institutions coming in, lawyers will need to use these tools to get work from elsewhere… It takes a while to build up followers so they had better get moving

Rory: Agreed. Growing competition means that people need to get involved

 

Footnote

These are our notes from the call, and focus on the things that grabbed our attention. Leave a comment below if there is something important you feel we missed.

And finally, Adrian has promised to make a recording available for on-demand playback for anyone that want to listen to the whole call.  Keep checking his website for that.