A recent article I read picked up on some of the discussions generated at this month’s Legalweek New York 2020. At Legalweek, industry leaders gather to meet about current trends in providing legal services. Much of the focus was about modernizing legal services.
They reported that “clients and their in-house counsel often want a more holistic approach from their law firms. For example, topics included project management and other value-added services that don’t fit into the billable hour. Most law firms, meanwhile, are sticking with traditional legal representation and business models.”
It can be tricky for law firms to navigate out how to deliver what the clients say they want. Law firms tend not to resist the status quo. Therefore, they can struggle with delivering on requested changes from the client. Mostly, they focus on the continuation of being the reliable provider of advice and legal work they’ve always been.
One participant at Legalweek “said she was managing outside representation, a tech team and multiple other aspects of the company’s legal matters—and she wants firms to do more of that work. In-house people don’t want to manage all of it—we want law firms to be the ones to take on a general contractor role and maintain the relationship,” she said. “To best serve the client, don’t offer to introduce them to a new technology tool or a third-party service provider. Do it for them.”
For the clients, it would be nice for them to have one less decision to make. Whether it’s evaluating some new technology or choosing an outside vendor who promises to make managing legal business simpler, law firms can shoulder some of that responsibility.
The law firm can take care of making those decisions based on what works for their clients’ business needs.
Innovation is never easy. However, law firms that offer additional services that clients are seeking will be able to distinguish themselves from the competition. In conclusion, the challenge in modernizing legal services is how to do it gracefully.