The drivers of increased matter mobility

Posted by Chris Giles, CEO at Legal Futures Associate LegalRM

Giles: Firms can no longer expect clients to stay long term

What’s driving more matter mobility or client transfers in today’s legal sector and what does it mean for firms?

Certainly, clients are moving firm more frequently as nowadays corporate legal departments must closely account for their legal spend and need to achieve demonstrable value. They systematically compare rosters of legal service vendors, eroding the old loyalties.

Firms can no longer expect clients to stay long term, and so should be ready to transfer clients out and onboard new ones continually.

The war for talent

Simultaneously, there are ever-more frequent skirmishes in the war for talent. Especially among large firms, it has become normal to actively poach top lawyers and sometimes even whole teams – who are expected to bring their clients with them – to the extent that most leading firms have appointed talent acquisition officers.

It also makes many ambitious lawyers restless, so they are permanently on the lookout for a better deal.

But, in addition to the blandishments of a bigger paycheck, many other lawyers are moving firm more frequently for different reasons, such as more fulfilling work or to achieve a more sustainable work-life balance.

This is a consequence of the pandemic – which simultaneously demonstrated the feasibility of home working while also giving folks time to reflect on what matters to them.

Consequently, some lawyers are now looking for (or demanding) home or hybrid working options. In tandem, we’re seeing a real sea-change in attitudes to, and a willingness to talk about, mental health in the legal profession. It’s creating a climate in which many lawyers are more likely to seek out firms offering more diverse compensation packages.

Combine these motives and Thomson Reuters reported that staff turnover among US lawyers had rocketed from 15% to nearly 25% last year.

Marked increase

These factors are driving a marked increase in matter mobility in today’s legal firmament. The salient observation is that it is not likely these issues are going away any time soon.

Given this landscape, then, and since matter mobility is growing into a significant burden, firms should urgently consider how they can handle the processes of onboarding and offboarding clients and matters much more effectively, compliantly and efficiently – and what help they might need with that. These are the issues that we’ll discuss in the next blog.

To find out more, join us for an ILTA product briefing on 14 November, ‘How to make client transfers a key competence’, where we will discuss the technology that can support firms to efficiently manage the challenge (and opportunity!) of matter mobility. Click here to register.



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