The rise of the legal resource manager – part 1

Posted by Alex Tring, global head of consulting for resource management at Legal Futures Associate BigHand

Tring: Resource management can make a very tangible impact

I recently typed ‘resource manager’ into LinkedIn’s job pages, with filters to include law practice and law services in the UK. The first page of results returned multiple live roles with the title, including those being directly marketed by four of the UK’s top 10 law firms.

We’re seeing a similar pattern emerge in the US and predict that this level of demand will be seen globally over the course of the next year.

The idea of having an impartial and objective resource manager involved in managing the allocation of work and supporting the careers and development of associates, is no longer new.

The role has become more and more common place in the last two years and even become an expectation for some legal lateral hires or those entering the profession. In fact, our recent survey of over 800 law firm professionals found that 33% of firms already have dedicated resource managers, and of those that don’t, 93% plan to recruit one in the future.

Full-time resource management needs

This shift was already in motion pre-pandemic, with the consulting team I lead having supported law firms to introduce resource management and work allocation structures for more than eight years.

It’s clear, however, that hybrid working and other challenges and disruptors in the industry continue to accelerate the need to have a full-time professional, rather than resourcing sitting as a bolt-on responsibility for a nominated partner.

Our research found that 38% believe too much partner time is spent on resourcing matters. It’s become harder for a partner to manage this against a backdrop of increased lateral hiring, hybrid-working challenges, delivering diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals, added client pressure to work efficiently and keep costs down, and a workforce seeking a career experience that meets immediate and long-term needs.

These are all things where resource management can make a very tangible impact when given the right focus.

A number of firms now have established or growing resource management functions, with teams of resource managers serving partners and fee-earners across practice groups and locations.

Many of those implementing the role have come from other professional service firms, most notability the Big Four accountants, where the role has been well established for a long time.

It also presents a new route for those pursuing business services careers in law, or even those with law experience who have taken the decision to step back from a client-facing role.

Technology as a priority

Technology also plays an important role. The right technology can act to attract and retain talent with real-time visibility of lawyer capacity, improved profitability and supporting firms’ DEI goals for equitable allocation of work.

In our research last year, 82% of firms said the implementation of resource management technology was a priority. This year, that commitment is further underlined, with 83% confirming they either already have a dedicated resource management technology in place or plan to implement a solution over the next 24 months.

What is clear is that the dedicated resource manager role, supported by powerful resource management technology is no longer a ‘nice to have’: both are essential for future-proofing and growth.

The second part of this blog will be published next Thursday. To read our full research findings, access the legal resource management report here.


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