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LexisNexis recently hosted serval Managing Partner forums to review findings from our recently released Gross Legal Product (GLP) Report. A version of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the legal market, LexisNexis’ GLP report aggregates and leverages over 100 publicly available datasets to determine, predict and quantify growth or decline in demand for legal services across 13 practice areas. Download the report here.
The sessions delivered invaluable insight - we honed in on the question: ‘What would you have done differently or how would you have prepared had you have known at the start of the year that COVID-19 was coming?’ With the benefit of hindsight, some of the answers may seem obvious, but many found that modernisation projects they previously kept putting off would have helped make the move to remote working smoother.
Working from home (WFH) became a necessity rather than a choice for many which posed challenges for managing partners. Although some had the technological and systems requirements in place to facilitate frictionless working from home, others lagged slightly and had to accelerate plans to invest in the perquisite technologies to enable staff to continue their duties. Some reported plans taking up to six weeks to implement as WFH had never been considered. Others had an existing hybrid model in place where traditional office-based ways of working pared with WFH had been implemented, but as this hadn’t been rolled out company-wide, the transition for others took some time.
Many managing partners we spoke to were particularly surprised that their teams had been able to adapt so quickly to paper-lite ways of working, especially as the trajectory of printing costs had been going up. Commercial initiatives to go ‘paper-lite’ had to be expedited and in cases where legal titles were used across teams, firms had to quickly ensure online versions were available enabling practitioners to continue to work uninterrupted. All said that they’d have put plans and contingencies in place to ensure their people were ready to go paper-lite (bar one managing partner who had kicked off this project in January 2020). One managing partner even reported that when the Government had deemed it safe to return to the office, there was an influx of people who returned to the office to access books pertinent to their roles.
High on the agenda was employee wellbeing. Managing partners quickly realised that existing efforts to support the wellbeing of their staff had to be transformed and an in some cases new practices and programmes put in place.
Several managing partners reported that monthly catch-ups became a thing of the past, being replaced with weekly and bi-weekly sessions to allow for a more regular cadence for discussions. Video meeting became the next best thing with meeting attendees being encouraged to switch on the cameras which one managing partner felt enhanced connectivity. One firm creates a dedicated staff YouTube channel where employees could share videos of how they were getting on and company announcements could be broadcast. The firm reported that that the idea had worked so well and had been so well received that it would be kept, even when things return to normal.
With businesses closing their doors quicker than anybody could record, a few of the managing partners we spoke to said they’d wished they’d have been quicker to let existing and prospective clients know that they were open for business.
Many firms reported that they’d shifted their events budget to online channels in a bid to attract new business and retain the clients they had. As many us of us have, they invested in webinar enablement software enabling them to run their own virtual events.
Many reported that they’d realised a new-found appreciation for digital channels and online advertising and would be expanding their online presence and building on existing online activity.
Reassuringly, more than 90% of attendees said that they are prepared for a second lockdown. Firms have implemented systems and introduced processes that will enable continuity even if further lockdowns are imposed. Many have realised that although legacy ways of working still work today – an emphasis must be placed on introducing and leveraging technology that supports business growth now and in the future and that evolution must remain high on the agenda if they’re to achieve their commercial targets. This was borne out by our Bellwether 2020 survey findings, in which 71% of firms said that they see the crisis as an opportunity for innovation of their working practices.
LexisNexis would like to thank all of the managing partners who attended out GLP Managing Partner Forums for their input and insight into how they’ve faired during the COVID-19 period.
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