Law firms are from Mars, customers are from Venus

Law firms are from Mars, customers are from Venus

By Karl Chapman, CEO, Riverview Law

Smiling, the Chairman at a recent conference introduced me as a representative of “the barbarians at the legal gate”. I hope he smiled even more when I explained our surprise and pleasure to find that when we got there the gates were wide open, business customers were beckoning us in, and law firm competitors were fighting amongst themselves.

At another conference, not that I speak at many, the Chairman described Riverview Law as market disrupting and innovative. Flattering as this is, in its proper sense I don’t think it’s true. Riverview Law only looks disruptive from the perspective of the legal market. All we and some other businesses are doing is applying common sense, low risk, proven business principles to a sector which quite frankly should have done it many years ago. For example, we’re using “innovations” that we’ve deployed in our other advisory businesses over the last three decades.

Put another way, I don’t think that the legal market is seeing a bow wave of real innovation and creativity, whatever lawyers and commentators think. In reality it’s just in catch-up mode when compared with other sectors. However, it’s a catch-up that will probably only take five years not 30 given the changes in technology since the 1980s. This catch-up will change the shape of legal service delivery forever and customers, whether businesses or consumers, are the winners.

This has made me reflect on why the supply chain in legal services is so

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About the author:

Karl Chapman is Chief Executive of Riverview Law and has a long pedigree in starting, growing and managing successful companies.

After reading law at the University of Birmingham, Karl joined Guinness Mahon Investment Management (GMIM) in 1985. In 1987 he was Money Observer’s top-performing UK unit trust fund manager.

He left GMIM in 1989 to set up CRT Group plc (CRT), a consultancy, recruitment and training business. Under Karl’s leadership his team grew CRT, both organically and by acquisition, to a market capitalisation of over £500 million, sales in excess of £400 million with 2,500 employees operating from over 200 locations. In 1996 CRT sold 50.1% of its equity for £109 million to Knowledge Universe, a private US-based company.

Karl left CRT in 2000 and set up AdviserPlus Business Solutions in 2001. AdviserPlus is a leading advisory outsourcing organisation providing HR, employment and H&S solutions to organisations ranging from FTSE 100 companies to SMEs. He joined Riverview Law as Chief Executive in June 2011.