Mid-sized commercial firms “need to shout” about their tech offering

TLT: Best at communicating its tech offer

Commercial law firms need to shout more about how they use technology to help clients, according to a survey that found most mid-sized practices say “nothing at all publicly” about it.

Technology has “undoubtedly given small to mid-sized firms more leverage to compete for work that traditionally has been done by larger firms”, the research said.

“Understanding that tech is an opportunity is just the start. Internal and external communication is a vital next step.”

National firm TLT was identified as the best at doing this.

Law firm branding and design specialist Soukias Jones studied the websites of 67 law firms with annual revenues between £25m and £100m, following a separate study among larger practices.

None of the law firms with a turnover of £25-30m said anything at all about their use of tech, while just a fifth of those with revenue of up to £75m spoke about their tech credentials.

By contrast, 62% of firms with a turnover of £75-100m publicised their tech capabilities, as did 77% of larger firms.

Researchers observed that commercial law firms faced “stiff competition” from increasing numbers of well-funded new tech and service providers, along with the Big Four “with their big brands and their deep pockets” growing their legal practices.

“Now is not the time to be silent or vague about what your firm provides, or why and how you are different and better. Nor is it the time to wait. The market for the business of law is in flux.

“Put a stake in the ground. Evolve your messaging and brand as the firm’s approach unfolds. Innovation and technology are (or should be) key strategic pillars for your business.”

Researchers said TLT topped the list for showcasing technology and innovation. “The firm has developed an impressive content hub featuring its approach, products, insights and people.”

Meanwhile, VWV was the only firm beneath the £100m threshold to have a dedicated tech website, VWV Plus, underlining its commitment, although Foot Anstey also has a “sub-brand for tech and innovation”, Foot Anstey Ingenuity.

Some law firms took a broader approach, the survey said, adding “a complementary mix of services (beyond technology)” to their legal expertise.

“Lewis Silkin and Wiggin are perfect examples of this. Their sites feature a broad mix of solutions, products and services.”

Lewis Silkin’s additional services included Cube, for start-ups, founders and investors; LS Assist, providing fixed-price online commercial work; and Rockhopper, for fixed-price employment law advice and support.

Wiggin has Overmorrow, which connects financiers with opportunities in tech, media and entertainment, and subscription on-demand channels Cirkus, Curio & Kritic.

The five out of eight law firms in the £75-£100m group speaking openly about tech on their websites were Freeths, TLT, Ince, Keoghs and Brodies. The four out of 18 in the £50-£75m were Plexus, Lewis Silkin, Burness Paull and Shepherd & Wedderburn.

The six out of 28 firms in the £30m-£50m category were Keystone Law, Foot Anstey, VWV, Cripps, Wedlake Bell and Wiggin.

Researchers said some firms had taken a decision not to “surface their capabilities”, while others favoured the use of different channels, such as tenders and presentations.

“Even allowing for this, many firms miss out on the opportunity to burnish their brand. What’s more, firms are also failing to create a brand halo for a digital first mindset through their websites.

“Resorting to using pdf brochures, impenetrable slabs of text and unsuitable designs for mobile, the behaviour hardly promotes innovation. Being able to tell your story digitally speaks of a firm in-step with how clients are now consuming content and behaving.”

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