Whether you care to admit it or not, your legal practice is vulnerable. Hackers are becoming more aware of the wealth of data held by most law firms. They know how to find that valuable information and how to get it. They also know that most law firms don’t appreciate the threat that cyber attacks present, and are vulnerable. In fact, Cisco ranked legal as the seventh most vulnerable industry in its annual security report.
You may have heard of Sir David Brailsford CBE. He is the former performance director of British Cycling and currently the manager of professional cycling’s Team Sky. He is also credited for championing the notion of ‘marginal gains’, a phrase that has now become commonplace in the world of elite sport. It’s a world in which the difference between winning and losing – a podium-finish and an also-ran – can be minute. Marginal gains is about making tiny positive changes across the board that will ultimately add up to significant improvements to secure a competitive edge.
The market for cloud-based practice management is growing rapidly and so is the number of companies providing this service. If you’ve already decided that the convenience and cost benefits of a cloud-based legal practice management solution are suited to your firm, how do you go about ensuring that you’re purchasing a truly cloud-based product? Here’s what you should look out for.
On the whole, most of the proposed changes seem sensible, although an unexpected proposal is a change to the definition of client money, so that money received in advance for the payment of the firm’s fees and disbursements for which the solicitor is liable (for example counsel fees and expert fees) will in future be office money. Currently, for the majority of practices, money in advance for fees must be held in client account until an invoice is raised. It is difficult to understand why the SRA is looking to make a change here.
Law firms spend less than other comparable sectors on IT investment – just 4.1% of turnover, compared to consultancy (4.9%), and accountancy (5.1%), according to our latest research. Equally, displaying conservatism towards innovation as well as investment, a third of law firms have not been involved in any business innovations in the last two years, a considerably higher percentage than both accountants (22%) and consultants (19%).
It’s shorter, but there are two. Gone are outcomes, indicative behaviours and the rather confusing definition of the word ‘you’ to mean just about anybody, depending on its context. However, there are now two codes, one for individuals and one for firms, again aimed at making it a bit clearer as to where responsibility lies.
For years, insurance companies have used risk management services as a tool to engage with their customers and improve the risk that is being insured. If a customer feels that their insurer is invested in their business and actively wants to help them succeed, they are far more likely to renew their policy, purchase additional products and recommend them to their contacts. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that legal expenses insurers, to varying degrees, look to help their customers in managing legal exposures and the costs from employment claims.
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers has long argued that the scope of regulation of legal services is a muddled patchwork. The system of ‘reservation’ of legal services has grown up over time on no systematic basis and needs to be reviewed to ensure it is genuinely protecting consumers and supporting innovation and growth.
Given the massive global push to take computing off premises, a move to the cloud in the legal sector is inevitable – in fact, it is already happening. Analysts today are more or less unanimous in predicting that cloud computing will provide the technology foundation for businesses in the near future. According to Forester, we are on the verge of the second wave (application-focused) of cloud computing and we will increasingly find cloud providers focusing on the provision of next-generation applications in the cloud. The legal sector must partake of this opportunity.
Although many legal businesses claim to have introduced enlightened client-based practices, the existence of widespread poor satisfaction levels is arguably the sector’s Achilles heel, acting as a drag on performance in an era of fierce competition. It is also the reason that everyone from consumer representatives to regulators of the profession can continue to chide the sector for harbouring outdated attitudes and being demonstrably out of tune with modern shoppers for goods and services.