Reports

Legal Futures Roundtable Report, in association with LexisNexis: The Value Proposition

 

This Legal Futures roundtable report, published in association with LexisNexis, looks at what we call ‘the value proposition’ – how innovative firms have set upon a distinctive path and are ploughing them with vigour and success.

We gathered representatives of various firms around the table who show that it is not all about alternative business structures and radical ways of delivering legal services – it can also be about more subtle changes to form and focus that set firms out from the pack.

There is, of course, much to treasure in the traditions of the legal profession that have grown up over so many years, but there is equally no reason to preserve them in aspic.

We also tackled what LexisNexis’s Bellwether report earlier this year called ‘The riddle of perception’ – which showed that many lawyers do not know their clients quite as well as they think they do. The firms around the table showed that, however, some do.

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Insight: The impact of technology

 

The fourth issue of Legal Futures Insight takes on arguably the biggest issue in the market today: what technology means for legal practice.

The purpose is not to look at what has become commonplace technology, but instead to look to the future, such as to artificial intelligence. We investigate how advanced data processing and contract analysis have delivered some spectacular results already, while virtual assistants could lead to a new breed of ‘knowledge worker’, who will not be a lawyer or accountant. Is AI the end of the lawyer, or actually liberation from more routine work?

Then there is online dispute resolution, which looks likely to be introduced in a new HM Online Court. It may mean many local courts may no longer be needed, but is this credible given that court technology is currently in the Stone Age?

And what does technology mean for client interaction? Where should the tech end and direct dealing with clients begin?

Finally, one man with always his eye on the future is Professor Richard Susskind, and we evaluate the radical predictions he and his son make about the advance of technology in their new book, The Future of the Professions.

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Insight: Personal Injury

 

The third issue of Legal Futures Insight delves into an area of legal practice that has been in constant turmoil over recent years: personal injury.

MedCo has been the source of constant headlines on our sister site Litigation Futures in recent months, and in this issue we explore what is going well and what not so well. With the process of weeding out some of the worst offenders now underway, is fragmentation of the market for medical reports is a good thing or will it only lead to more confusion?

The other most pressing issue of the moment is clinical negligence. Once seen as a safe haven from mainstream personal injury, it is facing a double-pronged assault: caps on fees in low-value cases (although what the government considers low value is very different from claimant lawyers), and an end to the recoverability of after-the-event (ATE) premiums for experts’ reports. We look at both issues and the state of the ATE market more broadly.

Finally, with the suspension of budgeting for negligence claims in the High Court from next month, three leading costs lawyers give their very frank views on what the problems are and what the way forward might be.

 

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Insight: Conveyancing

 

The second issue of Legal Futures Insight explores some of the big changes shaping the future of conveyancing.

With award-winning marketing, massive investment and a later than expected launch, Veyo has finally arrived. Leading conveyancers, including the head of a top five firm, the new president of the Law Society and licensed conveyancers myhomemove give their very different reactions.

Lender Exchange has been with us for longer, but it is only this year that it has signed up virtually every active conveyancing firm – almost 5,000. Insight 2 finds out whether Lender Exchange, and its smaller rival LMS, will make life simpler, easier and quicker for conveyancers or add to their burdens.

Meanwhile we investigate how the Land Registry is trying to drag the world of local land charges into the 21st Century by digitising data traditionally kept by local authorities. Search providers are divided on the issue, with one predicting that “the likelihood of it going smoothly is almost zero”.

Meanwhile the property market has been extremely healthy, particularly after the general election. Sheila Kumar, chief executive of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers and Victoria Hurdley from the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives discuss their plans to tackle increasing demand for qualified staff, while responding to the changing market.

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Insight: Regulation & Compliance

 

The first in our quarterly Insight series looks at the regulation of legal services and how it is changing.

It explores different reactions to four fundamental changes the profession is having to grapple with this year – the end of hours-based professional development, the arrival of a real choice of regulator, changes to the Separate Business Rule and the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s plans to slim down the Accounts Rules and the Code of Conduct.

It finds that there is currently no consensus on the best way forward on any of these issues. Some believe solicitors, particularly in small firms, are burdened by too many rules, while other believe a lack of rules will only create huge amounts of guidance. Likewise, the Separate Business Rule has powerful advocates and equally determined opponents.

Even on ‘continuing competence’, there is no agreement on whether an hours-based approach is a good or bad thing. Meanwhile, as the number of legal regulators doubles to four, the heads of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, CILEx Regulation, the Bar Standards Board and Council for Licensed Conveyancers set out their stalls, giving us some idea where future battle lines will be drawn.

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Innovation Nation

 

PrintThis Legal Futures Special Report, published in association with Thomson Reuters, looks at how SME law firms are driving change in the delivery of legal services. It finds that to some extent innovation is a state of mind, and structure is secondary to how your run your business, but the availability of alternative business structure (ABS) status and the actual or threatened entry of new competition has focused minds, and in some cases becoming an ABS has proved of direct value.

The report also highlights the central role technology is having, with firms using it either to improve what is already in place today or to enable the delivery of services in new ways. But while there was an acceptance that lawyers have only scratched the surface of what technology has to offer, law remains as much art as science – technology only takes us so far. Where the trends of technology and business structures are pushing us is to focus brains on the real legal work, not the process that can just as efficiently be handled by less-qualified staff or advanced systems.

The report concludes: “The innovators recognise these shifts – for those who do not, a rude awakening may not be far away.”

 

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Innovation in the City

 

This first Legal Futures Special Report, in association with Thomson Reuters, examines the changing face of City law firms. It demonstrates how far City law firms have moved in a relatively short period of time, mainly (but not exclusively) in response to the recession and the demands of their clients.

Many are coming up with a range of tactical and strategic responses to the challenges they face, while a smaller number are rethinking the way they do business, and the value and service they provide to clients. Through interviews with leading figures in the City, and a roundtable debate between representatives of the new entrants to the market and traditional big firms, this Special Report shows how innovation is as much part of the City’s story as it is the rest of the profession’s in the ABS era.

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