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From time to time we host guest articles from industry specialists and we have recently interviewed Stuart Parker of Sirius Business Law Limited, one of the fastest growing specialist umbrella franchises specialising in legal services to businesses and their owners.

Here are the distilled comments:

Everything is changing in the world of Law.

The genteel practices of yesteryear have gone in the sheltered enclaves of the legal profession and practitioners need to wake up. For those that don’t start surfing, the waves of change are likely to be caught in the Tsunami backwash fuelled by legislative change.

For the legal profession that has side stepped fundamental communication and real technological change to date in a vain attempt to be the last profession with their finger in the dyke, the speed of change is overwhelming and here are a few thoughts on how to survive the maelstrom ahead. It’s a strange profession, huge battery style law practices with glass fronted offices on the one hand and quaint old wood panelled offices with dusty old quill pen pushers on the other!

  •  Hold on to the talent you have now. Law firms need to keep profitability levels high enough so that rain makers don’t jump ship. Competitors have always been wolves at the door offering “choice” to the best talent and overbearing Managing Partners out of touch with competitive reality can kick start an exodus. But in reality what “choice” is there in jumping ship from one large practice to another? Sirius has created a modern and supportive environment, where entrepreneurial minded corporate lawyers can run their own show in an extremely profitable way, free of the constraints of a traditional practice environment.
  • Expand as much profitable business as possible. Focus on expanding pipelines of revenue and high-margin practices where you have competitive edge. No firm can be all things to all people in today’s market place. Focus, focus, focus – Sirius concentrates solely on business law. Areas, such as residential conveyancing and will writing, will become commodity product lines dominated by the likes of the Co-op, where the smaller practitioner is squeezed out.
  • Integrate your relationship with top clients by creating strategic plans to retain them and forming mutually beneficial business plans. Invest in client relationships without charging an hourly rate. Lawyers with a clock running all day will soon find themselves timed out.
  • Follow the 80/20 rule, segment clients into categories of service, and become more than a commodity provider to them. How can you give/create value?
  • Cross-sell clients in order to keep them. According to the Redwood Think Tank, clients with only one partner working for them have a 35% attrition rate (i.e. the odds are 35% that the client will leave the firm within two years). Clients with three or more partners working with them are half as likely to leave the firm, although the “eat what you kill” mentality still pervades many firms. Be prepared to form strategic alliances and don’t be greedy. The art of building relationships is to play the long game. Treat clients and your colleagues with respect and back yourself to do a good job and the client will reward you all.
  • Review “service partners”. Outsourcing is now the name of the game. Are you getting good quality and cost effective support? Weed out the overhead and low yielding areas and focus, focus, focus on how you can add smarter value to your business.
  • Exploit the disadvantages of traditional law firms. There will be much greater fluidity in delivery of legal services into the future. Many clients already expect it and most will soon demand it. Why slog into the City when you can work at home or alongside your clients and be just as profitable and a whole lot less stressed?

For those with quill pens and glass fronted offices, knock on the door, we have news for you.

The legal profession is going through a fundamental change but most large firms will resist it if they possibly can. For anyone seriously looking to adapt there are more opportunities if you look around and at Sirius we’d love to hear from any corporate and business law specialists looking to make the leap of faith and back themselves to succeed in this new age of legal service delivery.

In the spirit of out sourcing we have retained Chris Slay of Skills Provision Limited to find and filter new consultants for us and he can be reached on Sirius@skillsprovision.co.uk

 

Author: Chris Slay

Skills Provision will allow our articles/quotes to be reproduced on other formats as long as full accreditation is given.