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When Law Firm Problems Become Client Problems

Posted by Gene Turner on 02-Nov-2022 16:17:54





A recent series of articles published by Zac de Silva and Mark Fisher touched on issues that we've been observing recently too.

Mark Fisher states, "I've never seen a candidate-short market as extreme as this… and I worked in London through the GFC from 2006 to 2012. It's putting so much pressure on all of us and that's across every single industry, whether it's nursing, retail, hospital, professional services, engineering, tech, digital – every single industry is dramatically short."

It's clearly become very challenging for law firms too, and it will get worse.

The article above contains some great suggestions on better managing retention and staff recruitment.

There's another lever that can also help – technology.

As Mark notes, technology can help with recruitment and retention too:

"We're seeing candidates leaving organisations that don't put enough emphasis on actual technology. If you're using archaic systems, if you've been meaning to do that new website for five years, if you've been meaning to get a CRM updated, get on and do it. You've got to look at why people will be proud to work for your organisation."

Technology will also help get the job done to the level clients need before it becomes a relationship-ending issue.

Last week I spoke to a business owner who has become very frustrated with the service he is getting from his law firms. He's regularly dealing with different lawyers as people come and go or move to part-time hours, and there is no consistency in the service. He realises that it's not easy for law firms, but their issues now significantly impact his business.

He has to respond. In his business, he needs to provide a good outcome to his own customers, quickly, or they will go elsewhere.

Turnaround times from his current law firms have increased to a week, or longer, which is now hitting him directly in the pocket. It's not the size of the law firm's fees that is the issue. It is their ability to do the work required – without reducing quality – in the timeframes his business requires.

Our conversation started with looking at ways to take on more of the work so he would be less dependent on the law firms and could change to other law firms if required. However, I feel that the law firm's role and the value they add are essential.

Improvements will only be possible by bringing the law firms into the improved process, so we need to find a way where the law firms and the client (and the client's customers and their advisors) can work together more effectively for everyone's benefit.

There will always be a role for lawyers in this type of process. However, it may be different lawyers. Those lawyers that are effectively pushing their problems onto their clients instead of looking for a combination of people, process and technology that meets their clients' core needs will lose work. Clients will either adopt technology and/or hire people directly to do more themselves or switch the work to more open-minded and collaborative firms.

Topics: Practise of Law, Document Automation, Legal Technology, In-House Legal, Document Assembly, Law Firm Management, Legal Automation, Legal Operations

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