Rely on the most comprehensive, up-to-date legal content designed and curated by lawyers for lawyers
Work faster and smarter to improve your drafting productivity without increasing risk
Accelerate the creation and use of high quality and trusted legal documents and forms
Streamline how you manage your legal business with proven tools and processes
Manage risk and compliance in your organisation to reduce your risk profile
Stay up to date and informed with insights from our trusted experts, news and information sources
Access the best content in the industry, effortlessly — confident that your news is trustworthy and up to date.
With over 30 practice areas, we have all bases covered. Find out how we can help
Our trusted tax intelligence solutions, highly-regarded exam training and education materials help guide and tutor Tax professionals
Regulatory, business information and analytics solutions that help professionals make better decisions
A leading provider of software platforms for professional services firms
In-depth analysis, commentary and practical information to help you protect your business
LexisNexis Blogs shed light on topics affecting the legal profession and the issues you're facing
Legal professionals trust us to help navigate change. Find out how we help ensure they exceed expectations
Lex Chat is a LexisNexis current affairs podcast sharing insights on topics for the legal profession
Printer Friendly Version
Over the past 30 years, there have been changes in virtually every aspect of UK law firm operations – from re-organisation of work, to mergers and acquisitions that minimise duplication. This pace of change continues to accelerate rapidly.
Yet despite this new reality, there’s a widespread view that the pace of change within law firms is not keeping up. The consequences of the failure to react fast enough can impact not only the profitability, but the survival of law firms.
LexisNexis held two breakfast seminars to look at this issue and to help provide some answers.
The panel was asked to consider if the case for change is so widely accepted, why have large law firms not responded fast enough? And what are the principal barriers to change?
The discussions, which took place on 15 and 17 March 2016, were chaired by Nigel Rea, Director of Precedents and Drafting at LexisNexis. The panel comprised of Mark Smith, Market Development Director at LexisNexis, Kishore Sengupta, Professor at Cambridge Judge Business School, Tim Skipper, Managing Director at Totum, Paul Browne, Partner at Møller PSF Group, and Robert Millard, Partner and Head of Strategy Practice at Møller PSF Group.
5 barriers to change
Kishore Sengupta undertook research on behalf of LexisNexis to look at what’s stopping lawyers from making the necessary changes in their firms. The ensuing report Changing at client speed – what’s stopping law firms? was the basis for his points.
Mr Sengupta conducted a qualitative research programme of the top 50 law firms. This included detailed conversations with senior and junior partners and associates, and senior executives in business support functions. He found five components that acted as a barrier to change.
Insights and learning from other industries
Mark Smith, Market Development Director at LexisNexis, said that traditionally in law firms change management becomes the responsibility of managing partners. However, unlike in other corporate organisations, there are three reasons why leaders in law firms will find implementing change particularly difficult:
A lot of the change that is required by the industry, to work in different ways, to do different types of work, to embrace new processes and technology challenges the very heart of the identity of the profession and some of the people.
Mr Smith suggests that while there are partners that do have the capacity, capability and appetite to lead on change – in many ways they are not set up to do so in the same way a leader is in a corporate organisation.
Tim Skipper, Managing Director at Totum, explained that he had found things had moved on considerably in the last 18 months in terms of new job roles in the market.
He said that the changes they had experienced were driven by the environment, new entrants to the market and – most importantly – client demand. Clients want law firms to better understand their markets, provide flexible pricing and billing, offer greater efficiency and work with them as a partner.
Totum has seen more investment in firms in new roles such as account management, client care, client listening, senior pricing professionals, commercial managers, sector focus, marketing, thought leadership, and more sophisticated business development initiatives.
In fact, he had seen five new heads of pricing in last six months alone – a role that hardly existed two years ago.
Who makes change happen?
Paul Browne, Partner at Møller PSF Group, said it needs more than managing partners to drive change – it needs partners, associates and the support side of the organisation.
To really deliver change you need to have a top down and bottom up approach. If you don’t have the partners and associates on side it’s very difficult to make things happen. It’s particularly important after a non-negotiable change – such as after a big merger – you can’t stop it, you can’t avoid it, and you don’t have a second chance. Appetite for change throughout the whole organisation is crucial.
If you’d like to read about these issues in more depth and find out about some of the potential solutions, please see our change management white paper Changing at client speed – what’s stopping law firms? You can access it by filling in a short questionnaire.
Or, alternatively, contact the Future of Law editor, Sarah Plaka, for more details.
0330 161 1234