Released today, a new report by LexisNexis the global provider of legal information and analytics and the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School, looks at the top-50 UK law firms and how they have approached the business of law since 2015. It looks at the changes that have been made, the changes that haven’t and what might be next.
The report exposes that, whilst firms have made significant and meaningful changes in how they work, the extent of this progress has, in many cases, been insufficient to meet the increasing pressures of the marketplace. From the research, it is clear that progress across firms has been uneven. Some firms have implemented bold strategies and stolen a lead. Others have had muddled strategies or seen weak execution – leaving them in relatively weaker positions.
Technology remains one of the main differentials in between firms – underlying some of the biggest changes in the industry. The report identifies that some firms have utilised technology to alter the way they work, diversifying their market offerings and enhancing their business services in areas such as operations and client processes. Technology has facilitated changes to the billing models, with data analytics allowing firms to more easily embrace fixed fee contracts and subscription-based services.
Mark Smith, Director of Strategic Markets at LexisNexis, commented “All major law firms have embraced new technologies. However, the firms that have thrived are those who have not just upgraded technologies – but those that have reimagined and rebuilt internal processes, operating models and culture to fundamentally change their ways of working.”
The research identified that those firms that have introduced new technologies and adopted flexible models of working, are perceived by GCs as adding more value. Smith continued “it’s no surprise that GCs tell us that firms that have positively and ambitiously embrace change have improved their prospects of being admitted to or remaining on panels”.
The report questions whether the changes seen to date go far enough. Gaining insight from interviews with GCs, it challenges law firms to push forward faster and harder. The report identifies four key barriers to progress that law firms must address to maximise their potential; the role of automation, adaptation of new business models, transforming culture and developing a willingness to challenge assumptions.
The 2021 Judge Business School report can be downloaded here.