By Graeme McFadyen, COO, Shine Lawyers
In recent years we have seen a permanent, significant shift in the competitive landscape in law with the arrival of a number of international firms which has led to the departure of whole teams from their Australian partner firms.
And in an era where most young lawyers have mastered the keyboard and voice recognition technology is available for those who haven’t that old office stalwart, the WP operator, has all but disappeared.
Standard business hours are becoming a thing of the past. We are seeing office hours blurred by the ubiquitous iPhone and Ipad and recently I saw a legal practitioner advertise that he was available Saturday afternoons to attend property auctions.
Commoditisation & Specialisation
Commoditisation has occurred across many areas of law which used to be standard fare for all practices such that practitioners need to be careful they continue to add value lest they be regarded as mere suppliers rather than advisors. And as practitioners struggle to keep their technical knowledge up-to-date there is constant pressure to specialise. But in what areas? Specialisation carries its own risk.
Business Model Transformation
Certainly most major law firms but also a growing number of smaller firms are outsourcing legal work to India. This is actual billable legal work not just Word Processing. Clearly this will be an emerging issue over the next few years as firms look for opportunities to contain their costs to better accommodate their key clients. The driver for this is the realisation that simply increasing charge rates year on year is not a sustainable model for billing purposes. Many clients are now insisting on fixed fees and the law practices that get this new model right are likely to win market share from those that do not.
Leading the New Normal
To survive these forces Practice Managers and Partners need greater flexibility and resilience than ever before. They need to understand what is going on, assess the value of these changes for their firms to ensure they stay ahead of the changing game (or at least keep up). As ever change management requires courage and determination to drive the necessary changes for the health of the practice. This is no small task.
The 2013 ALPMA National Summit will be held at the Sydney Convention Centre from 18-19 October, 2013, supported by Platinum partner, LexisNexis. The Summit 2013 theme “Law Firm 3:0 - Leading the New Normal” recognises that the legal profession is undergoing waves of significant and recurring change. A major focus of the Summit is helping managing partners and legal practice managers to provide genuine leadership to re-shape their firms to deal with these changes. The 2013 ALPMA Summit will help managers at law firms keep abreast of the latest developments and ensure their firm keeps up or ahead of the curve. Register now!
About our Guest Blogger
Graeme McFadyen is the Chief Operating Officer at Shine Lawyers and the Chair of the 2013 ALPMA National Summit Committee.