The law firm of 2025 will not have a particular size, talent makeup or revenue -it will be the best at implementing change.
The imperative to adapt and lead change was the common theme from the keynote speakers at the Business Leadership Summit in association with Propero this morning at Grange St Paul’s today.
Keynote speakers this morning including Dentons global chairman Joe Andrew and Microsoft Corporation assistant general counsel of legal operation and contracting Lucy Bassli, who addressed the over 150 attendees on the change they expect for the future.
Bassli focused on the transformation that in-house counsel expect from their external advisers.
Coining a term that other speakers referenced throughout the morning at the Business Leadership Summit, Baasli said that law firms should find and use the “data crack” that in-housers most value.
“We want a little more value, a little more depth and a more data,” Bassli said. Law firms are largely unaware of how to leverage the wealth of data that they collect from their clients, she claimed. But it’s not just about data, it’s how lawyers can use it.
“Data is not a magic bullet,” she explained. “The tech won’t solve the problem but will retrieve the solution.”
Two years ago, Bassli says that in-house lawyers were asking external lawyers to develop new technology to help them in their day to day life. “Two years on, and external law firms have developed this technology and no one from in-house seems to be taking the bait,” she explained.
The way around this issue, she claimed, is for law firms to partner with a specific client, rather than try to please them all. “Look for a client that will say yes.” she explained.
Propero Partners senior partner James Noble said that 86 per cent of law firm leaders claim that changing behaviour within law firms are the biggest threat to growth.
Part of the challenge for firms, he explained, is the fact that they don’t always reflect their changing workforce – and that millenials are becoming more important within their organisations and those of their clients.
“You will be competing for client’s attention as much as you try to retain talent. Learn from the struggle for talent before you struggle for future clients’ attention,” he explained.
Tomorrow’s client is less likely to go for a one size fits all law firm, he claimed. “Changing behaviour means they are willing to embrace a large amount of service providers that they wouldn’t have considered before.
“You have to have a good value proposition and you must clearly and consistently communicate it to your markets. Tomorrow’s clients want to speak to people who will be able to provide business clarity.”
Dentons’ Andrew, who is the mind behind the firm’s substantial growth over the past years, said that he isn’t in the business of talking about change but implementing it.
“I’m not in the business of predicting what will happen, I’m in the business of making it happen. I’m not about talking about the business of disruption, it’s pretty obvious that we [Dentons] are disruptors as well.
“Law firms can succeed if they can do one important thing: manage change.”
Andrew points to the extreme growth of Fortune 500 and FTSE companies over the last six years as a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is that law firms have not matched their clients’ growth trajectory. The opportunity is that with the rapid expansion of clients’ businesses, the need for external counsel is higher than ever before.
“The law firm of the future does not have a specific size or a specific focus,” he explained. “There is space for all types of different firms that have the potential to be successful in the future.”
The important thing, he claimed, is to not aim to become the perfect law firm. “You have to be true to your own firm’s history,” he explained. “Every firm of all sizes can succeed by implementing change.”
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