Last Tuesday and Wednesday the ComXo team attended The Lawyer Business Leadership Summit 2015 as one of its lead sponsors.
The decision to invest key marketing focus on these awards were that their focus was around the massive change the sector is experiencing in the way it works both in the board room and around the office.
The two day conference was structured to discuss and debate the seismic pressures that are asserting themselves on the legal sector both from a local and global perspective.
Here are some of the take away’s I heard:
Collaborating with specialist outsourcers is key to deliver innovation into the sector and the key to a successful outsource are delivering 3 key figures to 3 key drivers.
Athena Alexander Managing Director of Credit Suisse suggested that the magic formula for a value outsource delivers 30% cost reduction, a 30% revenue increase and 99% reduction of risk.
Client Facing technology that provides transparency, flexibility and speed are the way firms will deliver their legal services in the future. Bas Boris Visser Global Head of Innovation and Business Change at Clifford Chance (crikey a law firm with person responsible for innovation!) underlined the importance of new forms of cooperation: in-house, out-source and collaboration. The example he gave was Clocktimizer which used big data analysis to drive efficiencies.
The key finding from the Lawyers own Business Leadership Survey was that there is almost no innovation in the legal sector at all. The discussions around the summit over the two days explored why this was and my insights are that the partnership business model is essentially a way of distributing current year profits to worker shareholders. Since consensus is required for investment decisions and the older you are the greater your power but the less likely your return there is no incentive for anything other than short term decision making. One of the delegates reported how IBM invest 9 billion a year in R&D….and law firms, even magic circle ones, spend nothing at all.
Bas also showed a great video on how the lawyer mind set kills innovation. Lawyers he said are trained to find what is wrong not what is right. Click on the video below to watch…
The term Agile working came up time and again and I was fortunate enough to be chair of the panel discussion.
Here are the highlights from my panel: Penny Newman of Lewis Silkin and Derek Cummings of Burness Paull.
Agile working is about the ability for an employee to function at anytime, in any place without hindrance. This could be in the office in an open plan, hot desking or ‘drop in’ environment or it could be a C class executive being on the road between offices 3 days a week. Agile working is about maximising mobile technologies, with smart working practices in varied environments that say ‘my workplace is determined by me rather than by my buildings.’
The adoption of new technologies was a big topic both in my panel and across the two days. Did you know for instance that though UK offices like and adopt Skype for Business for their voice conference calls but US offices don’t. That surprised me!
Adoption of this new way of working needed cross company commitment and cross departmental cooperation to get it right. HR programs to train senior fee earners that technology saves time and enables more billing not less, collaboration with 3rd parties to deliver solutions that are specific to the business need of the firm not out of the box, creative teams that included ‘non’ lawyers to facilitate and problem solve.
In summary the sector is being driven by the changing landscape of technology, efficiency and globalisation. The structure of the traditional firm hinders investment and innovation and their is a lack of strategic foresight as to how these factors will change traditional legal structures for good.
A legal practice is a talent management business and a good analogy might be the England rugby team. Talented people coming together as a team to execute a strategy where the parameters constantly move . In the legal sector the players are also the talent scouts, the financial backers, the coaches, the physios, the managers and the grounds keepers and any new ideas must past muster with the oldest members of the team.
I remember feeling as I left the summit ‘…either legal firms need to embrace change or change will embrace them’