Lawyer Management Awards 2014: how to showcase innovation

The Lawyer Management Awards entry deadline is looming – here’s why innovation in the legal market matters.

Last September saw the launch of The Lawyer Management Awards, our first official recognition of the work, often behind the scenes, carried out by all types of business services professionals across the legal market – from the newest boutique to the largest international player, and from around the world.

Awards winners in 2013 included Clifford Chance, which picked up the Law Firm Management Team of the Year prize, and Baker & McKenzie’s Julia Hayhoe, who scooped the Law Firm Management Individual of the Year (25 September 2013).

The evening’s other categories including HR Team of the Year, Best Technology Project, Best Knowledge Management Strategy, and Best Major [Facilities] Project served to underline the groundbreaking thinking that is now running through the UK legal market.

For years UK legal was a sector that was seen to lag behind other professional services in terms of innovation. Thanks to some of the people behind these awards wins, that is increasingly not the case.

The past few months have continued the theme of innovation. For those firms and barristers’ chambers which have been looking at their operational management, there is still time to enter The Lawyer Management Awards 2014 (click here for information).

A recurring theme for many of the awards this year is likely to be changes firms have put in place to meet the challenge of a rapidly disaggregating and fragmenting legal market place.

A snapshot of the past few months reveals why. Recently we have seen the launch of Ashurst’s low cost centre in Glasgow (12 June 2013); Herbert Smith Freehills ramp up the use of its Belfast office to support its overseas teams (20 January 2014); Berwin Leighton Paisner’s shake up its client service delivery with a launch in Manchester (11 March 2014); Addleshaw Goddard celebrate the third anniversary of its Manchester-based Transaction Services Team (21 November 2013); and Hogan Lovells’ opening of a low-cost centre in Birmingham (3 March 2014).

Firms have increasingly looked to offer innovative sole provider contracts using fixed fees, such as Pinsent Masons with Eon (3 October 2013) and Balfour Beatty (25 March 2013), or look to improve the efficient delivery of their services in other ways, such as the growing raft of flexible resource offerings such as Pinsents’ Vario (6 February 2013), Eversheds’ Agile (14 October 2011) and BLP’s Lawyers on Demand (19 June 2013).

US firms in London have not been immune to these market pressures or free from similar levels of innovation. Baker Botts’ decision to launch a new flexible resourcing initiative is just one example of how the biggest international firms are responding (17 February 2014).

Finance teams have been wrestling with HMRC’s new tax rules for much of this year (28 April 2014) but they have also been actively engaged in helping their firms tighten up working capital management, notably at DWF (30 January 2014) and Hill Dickinson (6 March 2014).

Technology specialists and facilities management teams have also never before faced the level of challenges they do now. Remote working and a fragmented workforce coupled with the ongoing need for firms to make sure head office is as up to date as possible – see the moves being made by DWF into the Walkie Talkie building (13 January 2014), Bird & Bird’s confirmation of a new London headquarters (23 May 2013), or Field Fisher Waterhouse’s move into a single site (4 June 2013) – are creating a raft of new challenges relating to data security, integration and efficiency.

These days every firm in the market is wrestling with how to innovate in a way that will meet client demands. And every one of these innovations requires new thinking from business support staff. This is simply a snapshot of some of them.

This year’s Management Awards will recognises that work from all corners of the market. Don’t miss out.

For more information about entering The Lawyer Management awards contact Sarah Hetherington on +44 (0)20 7970 4532 or Camilla Russell on +44 (0)20 7970 4108.