I visit a lot of different businesses in the course of my job – both law firms and other types of organisations. This gives me a unique opportunity to compare how the legal sector is shaping up against the commercial world in how they welcome visitors to their business, and it’s fair to say that those that go the extra mile certainly stand out.
We at the Bar Standards Board (BSB) are proposing to make big changes in training for the Bar and want your views. The Future Bar Training programme was set up by the BSB in 2014 in response to the Legal Education and Training Review. The aim of the programme is to ensure that training for the Bar is flexible, accessible and affordable while sustaining high standards.
What does it take to shape a high-quality client experience? How do you encourage effective and long-term client/adviser relationships? What is the role of the marketing department in achieving this? These are the questions that every professional services marketer should contemplate with a view to taking personal action. For me, nothing can be more important than truly understanding the activities and actions that can deliver a more satisfied client.
I recently found myself in the frozen food aisle of Tesco making the big decision – Ben & Jerry’s, or Häagen-Dazs? As a product I can’t ‘try before I buy’, I realised I was making a decision based upon brand, and my awareness of the two. Unknown to most, Ben & Jerry’s was originally the underdog to Häagen-Dazs, but with its creative marketing and branding, it quickly accelerated its growth and became incredibly successful in a market that was rather saturated.
With the government, the Competition and Markets Authority, the Legal Services Board, the Law Society and the legal services regulators all flashing their sequined blouses like contestants on Strictly Dumb Downing, the idea of leaving a ‘secure’ job and setting up a new law firm is likely to feature alongside bareback-rodeo and base-jumping on most people’s personal risk register. So it’s surprising that recent SRA data shows a significant net increase in UK law firms year on year. What, you may ask, is driving such risky behaviour and what are the hallmarks of a successful start-up?
As you will be aware, it is a legal requirement for advisory firms to carry out ‘know your client’ checks. The purpose of doing so is to confirm your client’s identity and to seek to provide protection in respect of anti-money laundering (AML) and terrorist financing laws. The BHS experience before the House of Commons’ work and pensions committee and business, innovation and skills committee shows that firms need to think beyond AML obligations.
The results from this year’s legal services consumer tracker survey make for interesting reading. In its sixth year, the research finds that a firm’s reputation continues to grow in importance, holding its top slot as the number one factor influencing choice of lawyer, with price remaining a strong second, reflected in a shift towards higher numbers of fixed-fee transactions. Alongside, it reports that trust in lawyers has declined to 42%, from 47% in 2012. It’s useful information as far as it goes, but what is the sector going to do with it?
Tech is famous for its shorter and shorter hype cycles. Robot lawyers were all over the twitters only a few months ago and now people actually yell at you for even mentioning the thing. Of course, robot lawyers should not even have surfaced in the first place because no one is remotely close to building them. Lawyers should not fear for their livelihoods. But there is something that is much more important than robot lawyers. It’s robot clients. Or at least the proliferation of machines, automated transactions, and standardized processes where lawyers once controlled the terrain.
Following the Schrems decision by the European Court of Justice in October 2015, it is advisable that EU data continue to be stored in EEA locales. The DPA also require a certain level of security for the data storage from both data controllers and data processors. In 1995, when the DPA was developed, Mark Zuckerberg was 11 and cloud computing was still a wild notion embraced by few. To address this, a replacement for the current legislation has already been scheduled for 2018.
The Legal Services Board’s vision for the future of legal regulation reflects the build-up of years of frustration. Frustration at an illogical system where anyone can write a will, administer an estate or provide employment law advice, but only lawyers can do conveyancing as it is a reserved legal activity. And the reason for that? Because in 1804 Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger wanted to raise taxes on articles of clerkship and practising fees, and offered lawyers a conveyancing monopoly as compensation.