The uncertain pandemic landscape has permanently shifted the way that law firms do business. The phrase “new normal” has been bandied about for months. But there seems to be little consensus on what that actually means, or on what makes one firm thrive in the current climate while another fails. One thing is clear – the law firms seeking to remain competitive are taking the disruption of the pandemic as an opportunity to re-evaluate their priorities.

Client expectations are evolving.

Being a “client-centric” law firm involves a mindset shift that puts the client at the heart of decision-making and priorities. The pandemic has pushed the industry towards more online ways of working, and clients expect a digital-first client experience.

Law firms need to understand when to use a human touch and when to use a technology touch in the onboarding and matter-management processes. The evolution in client expectation is driven by the tech-forward approach in other industries like e-commerce, banking and insurance.

Change management is hard to get right.

Having buy-in at the very top is key for the roll out of new projects. Project managers with experience across different industries can help to make rollouts of new technology as effective and painless as possible. The fact of the matter is, embracing changes is essential to remaining competitive.

The key is to involve the staff who are actually going to use the technology in discussions so they can evaluate if it will make their lives easier, enable them to save time, and automate repetitive tasks. Also, firms need to ensure that their chosen technology suppliers have invested the time and effort to give proper training to staff at all levels across the firm to get the most value from solutions.

Firms also need to understand the ROI that a particular project can deliver, and track progress accordingly. Doing the correct due diligence on suppliers ensures that the results will be delivered and that there’s tracking and progress updates against key objectives.

Using data to inform business strategy and decision-making is key.

Harnessing data about key operational metrics can help to identify where there are opportunities for process improvements and more efficiencies. Forecasting using data for cash flow, new matters, billing more generally is key to better managing risk and unlocking growth.

Client-centric law firms need to understand both aggregate and granular information about their client base, and the technology suppliers that a firm enlists can help to consult and advise on how to harness data effectively and how that can be leveraged to improve business outcomes.

Maintaining or improving cash flow should remain a top priority.

Getting clients to pay their bills promptly is key to better cash flow management. Consider how your firm could get more regular, smaller payments quickly, rather than large, irregular lump sums. By leveraging technology that offers digital payment options, client payment times can be reduced dramatically.

More training and education with lawyers is key to help them to understand why forecasting, better billing estimates and more robust collection is key.

Specialist expertise can enable better risk management.

Investing in the right people with specialist expertise is as important as getting processes right and investing in new technology. Firms who have CFOs and FDs who can focus on the numbers, data and forecasting have better cash flow management and understanding of priorities.

Effective and efficient management of risk can unlock key opportunities for your business, can impact the bottom line and can drive a competitive advantage. Building a compliance culture is key so all staff understand it is a collective responsibility, and not one person’s job.

Looking ahead

We’ve seen huge strides in the last 18 months in the adoption of new technology and more agile methodologies, and we think the future is looking bright for the firms that can successfully cultivate a client-centric mindset.

The team at Legl are happy to consult with your law firm to advise on best approaches to adopting new technology, and how to promote agile ways of working in your firm. If you’d like to speak to the Legal Partnerships team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.