A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

How practice managers can thrive in this new era of smart technology

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

by James Boocock, General Manager - Legal Solutions and Small Law, Thomson Reuters

For professions that have been reluctant to stray from convention, the era of smart technology has been a game changer. Commoditisation of services and the availability of smart software to enable it has meant law firms have become businesses in the truest sense of the word and must compete for their market share. So what do these shifts mean for practice managers, and how can they evolve their firm to ensure it thrives in this new era?
As the age of smart technology has fallen squarely upon us, commoditisation of services across all industries has created certain expectations as to how services are priced, packaged and delivered. Consumers are becoming increasingly accustomed to acquiring inexpensive, fixed-price, pre-packaged, DIY or instant products and services online, and they are transferring these same expectations to legal services.
To ensure they develop a successful business strategy for growth in coming years, practice managers need to understand how smart technology is shaping prevailing consumer demands, and how they can use technology to meet those demands. 

Here are four tips to survive in the smart tech age:


1. Commoditise

Clients want legal services that match what they're receiving from other industries – instantaneous, fixed-fee, pre-packaged services with little to no commitment.
Rolling legal services into a click-and-purchase bundle is definitely a challenge, but it's not impossible, and innovative firms are finding ways to satisfy this demand. Practice managers should keep their minds open to novel business models that are enabled by smart technology, and find ways to integrate them into their firm's offerings.
Could you deliver some of your offerings as ‘virtual services’ or even create a DIY legal product?

2. Reduce costs to offer lower prices

The consumer demand for faster, cheaper legal services can only be met with increased efficiency at the firm level, which requires quality practice management and workflow technology. The level of efficiency achieved by integrated practice management software solutions is simply unattainable for firms that are still working off paper-based processes.
Technological intervention can also be increased to reduce the fee earner spend on routine legal tasks. Could you deconstruct each legal service and approach it with a tiered taskforce, allocating specific tasks to technology and non-legal staff?

3. Smarten up your marketing

Position your firm where clients expect to find you. For smart technology users, this means online. A large percentage of consumers now prefer to research products and services online before purchasing and will go straight to a company's website or Facebook page.
A brilliant website is the heart and soul of any smart tech marketing campaign. It should be interactive, informative, up to date and allow your clients to learn as much about your products and services as possible before starting a conversation.
Could you increase your online exposure through social media, RSS feeds and blog posts?

4. Be an innovator

The best way to stay at the front of the smart tech crowd is to be one of the innovators. Law firms are in the best position to conceptualise new practical legal technologies. Consider enlisting the help of a pro to develop a firm-specific app or software that sets your practice apart.
Could your firm develop an app to make it easier for clients to log into portals to view their legal matters and check their progress?
As technology advances, no doubt the role of lawyers will change and traditional methods of business will become obsolete. Practice managers who can continue to integrate smart technologies into their firms will be able to offer clients better service, affordable prices and the latest in legal innovation.

Editor's Note:

Interested readers can learn more about investing in technology to stay ahead at the ALPMA Leading Your Firm livestreamed "Technology for Law Firms - Expert Panel" on Wednesday 28 October from 12.30pm (AEDT). 

This livestreamed event brings together legal sector technology experts to talk through the key issues firms face when looking to invest in and upgrade IT systems and infrastructure. Facilitated by Warrick McLean, CEO, Coleman Greig Lawyers and ALPMA National Board member, our expert panel comprising James Boocock from Thomson Reuters, Nicholas Carr from BOABIT and Richard Chew from Sparke Helmore Lawyers will talk through the stumbling blocks firms face and how to resolve these to invest in the right IT with the right contracts in place to move the business forward. 

You can watch the panel discussion live in Sydney, at one of our regional hubs across Australia and New Zealand or online.  Participation is free for ALPMA members or $99 (including GST) for eligible non-members.  Register now!

About our Guest Blogger

James Boocock is General Manager - Legal Solutions and Small Firms at Thomson Reuters. He has been serving the legal community in the UK, Belgium and Australia over the last 14 years, across traditional legal and trade mark practice areas. 

James understands the challenges, the novel ways the market has adapted to commoditisation and other competitive pressures. He has a wealth of knowledge across product development, technology operations and creating innovative environments to drive change within legal firms through practice management solutions. James is intimately familiar with traditional information business models and has significant experience in the changing landscape of the global legal profession in particular in the UK and USA as well as Australia. 

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