An article by Graham Moore, director at Exen Legal Solutions
The new legal landscape, with the introduction of ABS alongside a growing willingness of both individuals and companies to demand value for money in legal services, means that the market for legal services is becoming increasingly competitive. To survive, firms need to identify their niche and work towards gaining the competitive advantage. Information technology solutions are a key enabler of competitive advantage – but only if they are selected, implemented and used effectively.
Technology can increase the efficiency of delivery of legal services in a number of ways – by fully automating or de-skilling certain tasks staff are able to concentrate on areas where they can actually add value; by reducing errors financial losses and potential claims are eliminated; and by automating back-office functions such as finance, HR and marketing overheads are reduced.
Many of the new entrants to the legal marketplace are going to be from other commercial sectors where the use of technology to automate routine processes has been commonplace for many years. Businesses in sectors such as insurance, financial services and claims management would never consider operating without extensive IT support and automation. As some of these businesses start to enter the legal marketplace, they will bring their IT expertise and experience with them and they will start with a huge advantage in terms of the operating efficiencies this will bring.
To compete effectively, firms will have to distinguish themselves from the competition – true differentiation comes from the design of better business processes, and implementing those processes with custom built technology.
A current trend in legal services is the move towards alternative fee arrangements, which is changing the entire emphasis of legal service delivery. With fixed fee work, the amount of time spent by a lawyer on a particular case becomes inversely related to profitability: increasing profitability means reducing the amount of time spent, without sacrificing the quality.
Redesigning the legal processes to reduce the time spent involves identifying which parts of the process can be technology-assisted, and which remain the domain of the highly skilled lawyer.
In fact, tech-savvy clients are increasingly expecting the services they purchase to be provided by forward thinking organisations that can cater effectively for the modern demand to be kept in the loop about the progress of their case. In order to interact with these clients – and other business partners – there is no option but to implement some form of computerised management of cases. Unless all information about a case is recorded electronically, there is no way to provide the online instruction, updates and reporting services now being demanded.
Another key trend for businesses both seeking and referring legal services is to demand integration with their IT systems. This can only be effectively implemented if all information about a case is stored within the firm’s database so that it can be electronically exchanged with other parties.
Ultimately, the true competitive advantage will be gained by firms utilising bespoke information technology solutions to implement radically different and improved ways of delivering legal services.
What does Exen Legal Solutions offer?
To remain competitive law firms need to streamline their business and organisational processes. At Exen, we provide bespoke solutions to help firms gain a competitive advantage:
Law Firm Practice Management System and Business Intelligence expert. Managing Director of Katchr.
If you’d like to discuss how large or small law firm software and legal financial reporting systems could help you run your practice more profitably, please give me a call on 03333 010 766.