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Food for thought for those involved in planning their law firm strategies… Tony Williams keynote presentation ‘Lawyers in a Changing World’ at the recent 2016 Modern Law Conference covered a lot of ground – the survival of law firms in a rapidly changing competitive environment and those firms that are willing to pursue opportunities arising by embracing the needs of their clients and utilising technology to improve their marketing effectiveness.

Firstly Tony’s presentation, which I felt was excellent – some particular points regarding law firm strategies I noted from it included:

  • The legal services sector in UK is a mature, ‘over-lawyered’ market.
  • In this environment the only way to grow is primarily by taking market share from others.
  • Are lawyers prepared to recognise it is absolutely a buyer’s market?
  • There is a price clients are prepared to pay and new competition of all sizes are finding ways in order to meet that challenge.
  • What services are law firms prepared to give away – and why?
  • Do law firms really understand what clients’ want, the value of what they provide and why clients might choose them?
  • Will law firms embrace technology to get greater efficiency in order to be able to compete?
  • Branding, particularly in terms of consistency of service, is another opportunity/principle yet to be fully understood and developed by law firms.

OBSERVATIONS FROM MY PERSPECTIVE

  • There are future opportunities but they will increasingly be taken by the new providers with no hang-ups about how things have been done before. There is technology that already exists not being used (yet) and a constant flow of innovations that will be used by the younger lawyers and new entrepreneurs. They have the ideas and attitude when planning their law firm strategies to identify what gives the most competitive advantage and the best service to their clients.
  • Getting more business from clients is, from my perspective, an opportunity that is not rigorously pursued by many law firms. Tony made the point about the need for regular communications with clients. A systematic approach to cross-selling relevant services in a timely and appropriate manner is a ‘no-brainer’ in terms of business development – there is technology is available now to widely distribute content and messages on behalf of law firms.
  • Other industry sectors have been subject to huge upheaval – lawyers have experienced regulatory change for many years and the threat of genuinely innovative new competition were widely predicted (‘Tesco Law’, law firm franchises etc etc) – could this now be about to happen? Uber transformed the taxi market in London (also a highly regulated, long-established, tradition-focused sector with thousands of providers) by overcoming legal challenges and involving previously unregulated service providers.

Taxi for law firms who are not client-focused, technology aware and willing to anticipate and adapt to relentless change?