I saw the future of the legal industry in a warehouse in Shoreditch. That perhaps sounds like an unusual thing to say about a $700bn global market, but after visiting a legal tech company recently in London’s most dynamic quarter, the true scale of what could happen to the legal sector was laid bare. What I saw is not the end for all lawyers, but instead an artificial intelligence (AI) whirlwind hitting the current world of paralegals and junior associates, whose working lives may very well be about to turn upside down.
The headlines sound marvellous to hard-pressed law firm partners (don’t all weep tears of sympathy into your beer): “Gateley partners to share £25m”. Wow. An exit route and, what’s more, a means of realising a goodwill value for your practice, as well as the return of your capital. What law firm partner could want more? Well, the substance, of course, is probably far removed from that glossy appearance, or at least a good deal more complicated.
Process maps can take a number of different forms and, depending on complexity, involve numerous sub-processes. Commonly used forms include swimlane diagrams, value stream maps, organisational process structures and the more comprehensive ‘SIPOC’ models (which details the interplay between Suppliers, Inputs, Process steps, Outputs and Customers).
Not many lawyers would consider themselves masters of process. When lawyers talk about their work, they typically focus on ‘high-value’ activities such as advocacy and counselling. But the truth is process is a massive part of what lawyers actually do on a day-to-day basis.
Why couldn’t law be designed by designers as well? Designers, humans being who love beauty and keep users in mind. It seems we’re getting there. When faced with the inner ugliness of the laws, some designers decided to put design methods to use. With a bold intent: make the existing laws simpler, user friendly and beautiful. And they invented that thing that we’ll be calling legal design from now on.
Get any group of professional services marketeers together at the moment and the conversation quickly turns to thought leadership, that rather grandiose term some people use for the publications which litter (more of that later) the websites of most major law firms.
It’s the hottest summer since the end of the Ice Age and the cold dark misery of winter seems a long way off. Try, if you can, to cast you mind forward to January 2014. A depressing month at any time, we can rely on the SRA to make January just that little bit less endurable – last January it was the COLP and COFA regime, next year it’s diversity monitoring.
It came as a major surprise to many in the industry when In-Deed closed for business. Despite a difficult trading period, with over £1m in cash on its balance sheet the company appeared in better health than many conveyancing practices. The closure marked a swift rise and fall in fortune for one of the poster children of liberalisation of the legal market.
Brands are not just for big firms. Thayne Forbes argues that they can work for smaller practices as well, explaining how to create one, where the value lies, ensuring it appeals to your target market and the risks of adopting a marketing collective’s brand instead.
Lawrence Cook, director of marketing and business development at Thesis Asset Management – which was once owned by and is still linked to south-east law firm Thomas Eggar – outlines their experience of joint ventures with solicitors.
Since the introduction of the SRA Handbook, firms have been asking whether they should introduce or improve a file review system. Corinne Staves, a senior associate at Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP, considers the issues.
Seven alternative business structures in more than five months does not seem to be a great achievement on the part of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and increasingly Legal Futures has been hearing complaints about delay and a lack of transparency in the process.
Andy Ellis, the managing director of Practico and the costs lawyer who acted for the defendant News Group Newspapers in the Henry costs management case, highlights the key lessons from the ruling.
Direct public access – a chance for barristers and solicitors to work together, not against each other
With more and more barristers capable of serving the public directly, it may seem like public access is only going to lead to greater competition with solicitors. But, argues senior clerk Scott Baldwin, there is actually a business opportunity here that could benefit both sides.
Allison Wooddisse, head of LexisPSL Practice Compliance, looks at the whether and how law firms should indemnify COLPs against adverse consequences from taking on the role. Many COLPs are feeling jumpy but an indemnity is not as straightforward as it may appear.