How Progressive Law Firms Are Adjusting to Changes in the Legal Industry

June 02, 2020

The global legal industry is undergoing a sea change - from shifting client expectations and the use of new technologies to the rise of secondary / non-law firm competitors and demands from a new generation of employees. Progressive law firms need to operate differently so they can stay competitive, improve cost-efficiency, and increased profitability. 

Challenges that are Sparking Changes in the Legal Industry 

Evolution in the workplace is changing employee expectations. Workers are demanding flexible and/or work-from-home options, which is now key to attracting top talents. Meanwhile, a new breed of tech-savvy legal professionals is demanding collaborative and non-hierarchical structures in their law firms.  

New professionals are moving away from paper processes and there is an increasing need to outsource key business functions (e.g., IT, accounting, cashiering) to keep costs down. This require firms to implement digital transformation initiatives to stay current without increasing errors and delays caused by inefficient workflows.  

Also, the trend toward transparency and teamwork requires the implementation of collaboration software to enhance productivity, improve communications, and ensure employee satisfaction. 

However, the rapid digitalisation is raising concerns about data security in the highly regulated industry. Law firms need to invest in cybersecurity resources so they can safeguard client information and avoid hefty fines. 

At the same time, law practices are facing external pressures. The rise of secondary/non-law firm competitors, many of which leverage technologies to streamline legal processes, is eroding market shares of traditional law firms. 

Meanwhile, more clients demand firms to provide services at a fixed fee. This requires changes in the billing structure and drives the need for more cost transparency to both the courts and the clients. 

Changing client expectations are also creating a myriad of challenges. For instance, clients and referrers expect to access information about their cases online and in real-time, whenever and wherever they need it. In addition, clients, vendors, and partners demand speedier transactions in the digital age so many firms need to update their finance processes. 

What Progressive Law Firms are Doing Differently to Stay Competitive? 

To address the challenges so you can remain relevant, efficient, and productive, design a clear strategy to guide your digital transformation efforts so you can meet client and employee expectations.  

Design non-hierarchical workspaces to facilitate interaction and collaboration among employees. This can also encourage mentorship to help the younger generation of legal professionals learn from experienced lawyers.   

Assemble an IT team and choose a technology stack with the capabilities to support the key focus areas of your practice. Use legal management software to eliminate cumbersome paperwork that reduces efficiency and leads to errors. This will also help attract the new generation of tech-savvy legal professionals to work for your firm. 

Use a unified communications platform with features such as video conferencing, messaging, file sharing, and screen sharing. This helps enable flexible and work-from-home options while ensuring seamless collaboration and streamlined client communications. 

Outsource administrative tasks such as accounting and cashiering to increase productivity and efficiency. Use technologies to ensure seamless coordination and communication between vendors and the in-house staff to minimise errors and delays. 

To minimise data security risks due to the rapid digitalisation of the workplace, you should provide cybersecurity training to all employees to protect your network against phishing scams and malware attacks. This is particularly important when they log into your system remotely, from their homes or on-the-go. 

Also, work with a reputable legal practice management software provider that updates its platform regularly to make sure you're adhering to the latest industry regulations and data security protocols.  

Meanwhile, make compliance a priority to gain the trust of your clients and avoid hefty penalties. Work with a software vendor that can help you fine-tune a fully-customisable legal practice management platform so your workflows stay compliant at all times. 

As you improve cost-efficiency internally, don't overlook the importance of the client experience. Becoming a client-centric law firm is the key to acquiring and retaining more businesses in today's competitive market. 

Understand client expectations and use a legal CRM, marketing, and customer service system to implement a seamless marketing-to-sales process while delivering personalised communications. 

Increase transparency and ensure streamlined client communications by using case management software that allows clients to check their real-time case status from anywhere and at any time. 

Furthermore, implement a practice management system with robust reporting and cost management capabilities so you can update your billing structure (e.g., offer fixed fee services) to meet client expectations without risking the firm's profitability. 

Stay at the Forefront of the Legal Industry with the Right Technology Stack 

Today's progressive law firms need to juggle many moving parts to stay on top of their game. For example, by facilitating employee collaboration, meeting client expectations, increasing operational cost-efficiency, and staying compliant with the latest rules and regulations. 

The use of an integrated technology stack, such as  SOS Connect, plays a key role in achieving growth and adjusting to the fast-evolving global legal industry. See how we can help you become more competitive and maximise returns. 


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