Nearly every law firm claims to have “top lawyers”, and be “innovative” and “world-class”. Something that firms rarely advertise with their legal services is consistency.
A firm’s brand is its promise to clients. If clients don’t know what they’ll get when they engage a supplier, they are much less likely to purchase. Currently, individual partners in traditional firms provide a consistent product (i.e. the partner and their immediate team provide a consistent service from matter to matter). However, firms as a whole usually provide a very inconsistent product. This creates a growing opportunity for innovative law firms to build client loyalty and capture large volumes of business-related work.
Why Traditional Law Firms Lack Consistency
The partnership structure of traditional law firms is not suited to providing a consistent service.
The only way to have consistency at scale is to build an end-to-end process for each type of work that the firm performs. The firm must then rigorously follow the process.
Partners in traditional law firms just won’t follow a series of processes. They are essentially sole traders who attach themselves to a particular partnership for as long as it suits their personal brand.
This is why clients, in general, want to engage a particular lawyer, rather than the firm. If a partner in a traditional law firm moves firms, many of his or her clients follow. The clients are looking for consistency. They know the particular lawyer will provide it, rather than the firm.
Opportunity for Innovative Law Firms
Over the next ten years, there’s a huge opportunity for innovative law firms to restructure how legal services are delivered to businesses, both large and small. The purchasers of legal services (i.e. in-house teams or business units) will be looking to outsource large volumes of business-related work. Typically, this sort of work will require teams of 10-30 lawyers. Only firms focused on building process, structure and technology can complete this work efficiently while delivering a highly consistent quality product.
For example, at LegalVision we’ve seen significant traction with our “Managed Services” model. This involves the outsourcing of entire functions to LegalVision’s teams. We go to the client, scope the work in depth and design a decision matrix. We then religiously follow it. The client remains heavily involved as a part of the steering committee.
By taking on an entire function, we release the inefficiencies of having an in-house team interposed between the client and us. It works for clients because we can guarantee time frames and costings.
Clients value consistency. Consistency gives the client confidence they will receive their legal services on time, within budget and at the quality necessary to achieve their business goals.
When creating the perfect legal services mix, innovative law firms should place a particular focus on restructuring the delivery of legal services to ensure consistency. By providing consistency, the firm can better capture outsourced business functions that require a dependable process. In doing so, the firm builds client loyalty to its brand, not just its individual partners.
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