David McNamara, managing director of , gives his reflections on 2012 and his predictions on 2013.
Reflections on 2012:
Law firm focus: This year has been not dissimilar to 2011, with a flow of mid-tier mergers and new start-ups emerging. Existing firms are focusing on improving their core business processes, the quality of their dataset and their marketing functions.
ABS numbers: The steady stream of ABS licences issued as reported in the legal media has not yet resulted in those firms impacting on the market. However, this is creating a false sense of security and belies the real level of change and competition arising from ABS entrants which is set to affect the market from 2013 onwards.
Doing nothing: Too many law firms are still doing nothing at all (be it around company structure, business development, IT etc.) and these are the firms which are most likely to be worst affected by market changes in the coming few years.
Predictions for 2013:
Pricing:We will see law firms introducing new pricing models in 2013 (monthly subscriptions for example) to compete with the new on-line entrants such as Rocket Lawyer and Legal Zoom. This will impact on accounts and case management processes.
Client data security: There will be an increased focus on data security due to ongoing pressure from regulators, which will see more firms using email encryption software and revisiting their data protection protocols.
Inbound enquiries: As a result of increased marketing, call tracking within telephone systems will be used more to monitor missed calls (i.e. potential enquiries), and CRM functionality within software will help legal marketers better understand the success of their campaigns.
IT and compliance: More firms will revisit their business processes and how their existing IT systems can help them adhere to, and report on, outcomes focused regulation.
Outsourcing: Whether it be simply for hosted MS Exchange or opting for fully managed, hosted desktops for the entire staff, more firms will consider IT outsourcing if it can save money on the bottom line. Inbound calls and telephony may also be outsourced to ensure enquiries aren’t missed and clients are best served.
More new start-ups: We will see a marked increase in the number of new firms starting up in 2013. As pressure increases on the traditional partnership model, this will lead to the more entrepreneurial partners or fee earners leaving their firms and starting up new businesses with a fraction of the overheads of a traditional high street firm.