‘Law is a Buyer’s Market
– Building a Client-First Law Firm’
Book review by Simon Tupman
· ISBN: 978-0-9953488-0-6
· Author - Jordan Furlong
· Format: Softcover
· © Copyright 2017 by Jordan Furlong
When I first read Jordan Furlong’s book, - ‘Law is a Buyer’s Market – Building a Client-First Law Firm’, I thought ‘Hallelujah’! Finally, a pragmatic book for lawyers that neatly explains not just what is happening to the legal services market, but also why it is happening and what law firms (both large and small) can do about it. To read more click here...
Last week, I presented at the Chilli IQ Managing Partners Forum on the Gold Coast, Australia and urged delegates to adapt to changing market conditions before it is too late. Specifically, I offered 4 initiatives to stay ahead of the curve:
1. Be clear about your firm's purpose; consider why does your firm exist? (The answer is not to make money though that is a necessary outcome). Once your 'why' is clear, then you will attract people (clients, referrers, suppliers and team members) who identify with your purpose. Your ensuing strategies will be much more meaningful and engaging.
2. Serve your clients as they expect to be served; clients are your reason for being, so ensure you understand what their beliefs, needs and desired outcomes are. Find out what they want, why they want it and what they expect from you. Ask them directly and purposefully rather than part of just a casual client satisfaction survey. Give them an experience they will appreciate!
3. Inspire, include and reward your people; law is a human endeavour so ensure you treat all your people as partners in your business rather than dispensable resources. Everyone has a role to play in shaping the culture of your firm. As one senior associate wrote recently in the Law Society Journal of NSW, '...challenge yourself and those around you to engage in the process of meeting the client’s needs by looking at the whole of the business, the people involved, and the potential you have to increase the capabilities of your team for a stronger future.'
4. Run your practice as a competitive business; your legal practice is a commercial enterprise, so ensure you run it as such. Unlike 15 years ago, the legal services industry is much more competitive as a result of technology, more suppliers and substitutes and increasingly savvy consumers. Firms must therefore ensure they have the strategies, systems and people in place to ensure a healthy future.
As one delegate, Victor Tse from Melbourne commented afterwards, 'Simon was inspiring and offered plenty of useful advice for lawyers.'
To download my speaking prospectus, click here.
Ten years ago this week-end, I interviewed Paul O'Byrne, a Partner in London accounting firm O'Byrne and Kennedy, and a fellow of the VeraSage Institute. Sadly Paul passed away far too young in 2008 but not before inspiring and influencing many professional practitioners about the virtues of moving away from the billable hour to value-pricing.
His views are more relevant today than ever before. Click the link below to listen to the 20 minute interview. My thanks to John Chisholm for the timely reminder!
Today, courtesy of Cordell Parvin's Blog, I came across the Annual Report on the State of the Legal Market presented by The Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at the Georgetown University Law Center and Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor.
This is essential reading for all law firm leaders with en eye on the future. While it offers a US perspective, the information is of relevance to all law firms globally.
The report concludes:
"Under these (economic) circumstances, it would seem that more firms would be actively embracing the need to change their basic operating models – to design and implement new approaches to staffing and legal work processes, to explore new opportunities for collaboration with other service providers, and to adopt and market innovative strategies for the pricing of their services. While a few firms have been proactive in pursuing these opportunities, the vast majority has not."
Last week, I was in Sydney presenting at a private event along with Richard Susskind OBE who was in Australia to launch his new book, 'The Future of the Professions'. Richard is well known for specialising in the future of professional services, especially the impact of technology on the world of law. His views on the legal profession have influenced a generation of lawyers around the world.
During his session, he explained how technology is changing the work of professionals and how artificial intelligence is likely to transform practice in the 2020s. He argues that legal service providers and clients should move away from the traditional model of legal service to one or more of the six new models identified in his new book.
He is pessimistic about the future for lawyers who are reluctant to change. However, for lawyers who are prepared to optimise, transform, and diversify, he is confident they have a bright future ahead.
This week, I have been in Russia speaking at a law conference in Ekaterinburg, home of Russia's first President, Boris Yeltsin.
Growing up, the idea of speaking in Russia would have been unthinkable. Foreigners weren't even allowed into this part of Russia until 1990. Today Ekaterinburg, (formerly known as Sverdlovsk) a modern city the size of Auckland, is booming. The conference was held at the brand new Yeltsin Presidential Centre, probably the most modern venue I have ever presented in.
What I learnt from my trip is:
1. While they are proud of their history, lawyers in Russia are increasingly looking to the future and are keen to learn from the experiences of lawyers from other countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
2. The pace of change is as fast as it is positive. Russian society is increasingly open, westernised and cosmopolitan. Ekaterinburg offers an exciting blend of history, culture and modernity. It boasts a state-of-the-art international airport and is a host venue for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
3. Being published is good for your career. I would never have had an invitation to speak but for the publication of the Russian version of '[Why Lawyers Should Eat Bananas](http://www.lawyersandbananas.com/)' in 2012. When you write a book, you never know where it may lead!
The Latest edition of the New Zealand Law Society publication, Lawtalk features a Q & A interview with Simon on Leadership in law firms. To read, click here.
As reported in NZ Lawyer this week, it’s time for New Zealand law firms to wake up and smell the fresh scent of change in the air, says DLA Phillips Fox partner, Martin Wiseman. Read more...
The legal profession is poised on the brink of an employment revolution that will unleash a “pent-up productivity” and bring it into line with other industries, a report has claimed. As reported on Neil Rose's Legal Futures blog, The New World of Legal Work – commissioned by freelance lawyer network Lawyers on Demand, part of City firm Berwin Leighton Paisner – echoed predictions of the disruption of the legal market from other commentators, notably Professor Richard Susskind. The author, Canadian futurologist Jordan Furlong, argued that an era of “agile working” will enable law firms to increase their efficiency. To read more on this article, click here.