Lawyers getting left behind by not knowing how to use 4 things. Plus 3 examples of doing it right.
Roberta Downey of Vinson Elkins implemented a case management system using technology to better organize documents in a dispute between a chemical plant and an engineering company. By encouraging young lawyers to take ownership of processes, Downey was able to cut the length of arbitration from up to 10 years to two. This not only saves on time and costs but also improves the firm’s reputation and strengthens client lifetime value.
David Ziyambi of Latham & Watkins co-founded the internal employee network, the Black Lawyers Group, and devised a “layered mentoring” approach in which individuals are mentored by someone directly above them. By proving the positive financial impact of these diversity initiatives, such as pro-bono advice provided to Add Psalt, an incubator that aims to bring more black-owned brands into UK supermarkets, Ziyambi has helped the firm expand its market share and strengthen client lifetime value.
Cynthia Chan of PWC led the development of automation software to standardize information and reduce human error in large multi-jurisdictional projects. This not only saves on time and costs but also improves the firm’s reputation and strengthens client lifetime value. Chan also developed a data visualization tool that presents summaries of transactions to clients, which can speed up strategic decisions and increase revenue.
With these examples in mind, I challenge you to go on your own scavenger hunt within your firm. This is important because your competitors are already working on generating new value capabilities in their firms.
Look for examples of new value in the following categories:
#1 Use of data
Look for the different types of data and information the firm has or could create such as financial data on clients showing which clients are ideal for the firm or not. Or maybe collect metrics within a specific area of law to learn the variance of work effort and costs highlighting a sweet spot to shoot for.
#2 Use of technology
Obviously, there is plenty of technology to see. What you want to find are specific use cases that are enabling better client service — directly (clients interact with it) or indirectly (internal use to benefit clients). Look outside your practice area. Ask your paralegals, practice managers, and fellow associates in a different practice.
#3 Use of new pricing models
This could include alternative fee structures that are not based on billable hours. Is anyone using flat, fixed, or phased fees? How about subscriptions? Look at both litigation and transactional practices as either could have them.
If you find them, seek out someone in finance to help you understand how the firm measures and calculates these so you learn the ins-outs of what matters.
#4 New non-traditional practice or service
This could include a new service line or a new way of delivering services to clients. It might entail different talent like a new lawyer category that is the non-partner track. Or a streamlined workflow that uses tech, process, and non-legal labor to provide a legal product like immigration filings or commercial real estate drafts.
Transaction practices are a likely place to start here.
By going on this scavenger hunt, you will not only be able to identify new value capabilities within your firm, but you will also be able to see how they can benefit the firm and its clients. Remember, your competitors are already working on generating new value capabilities in their firms. Don’t be left behind!
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