I am indebted to Antony Smith from the firm Legal Project Management for helping me connect my synapses today. But I am certainly in a contrarian mood today, all starting with reading his interview with Richard Susskind.
The British Tabloids are a fantastic read, if you can tolerate their jingoism, bias, and historically dubious methods of getting stories. They prove that nothing sells like a scary headline. Here in New York, the New York Post is equally impressive and equally hard to ignore as you queue up to by the basics at the supermarket. The same applies to Susskind (not the jingoism, bias, dubious methods part, of course), but at the crux is a strong message that no lawyer should ignore. However, it should be remembered that even the Mayans will be right eventually if they keep predicting the world will end.
Recently, as proof that your past never escapes you – and this is all going to be connected below – I was approached to implement an Shared Services Centre for a large UK company, using something called the Ulrich Model. This Model has been around for over 15 years now, and clearly this organisation has survived without it and without being even a moderately fast adopter. The same applies to law.
The law industry is facing slightly different and more profound challenges. While the HR (or Finance, IT, etc) community is primarily a cost to an organisation, law firms are facing top line i.e. income challenges and threats. Along the way Law Firms need to address their back office cost base (as an example, try matching best practice of one FTE processing 3,400 Payable invoices), but most will continue to ignore the threats and opportunities for their growth and profitability.
The world will NOT end if Law Firms do not adapt (and adopt Project Management, Legal Outsourcing/LPO, internal transformation, back office optimisation) and Law will continue to be very profitable. In 10 years time we will still have Law Firms and General Counsel who have not adapted, and who will have done very well in the mean time.
Morally, I actually have less of an issue with slow Law Firms than I do with slow Corporations. At least the Partners are throwing away their own money (albeit collectively), not shareholders money, and their clients do now have alternatives for part of that spend.
Despite all of the pragmatism that I try to display, the future is actually pretty clear for any law firm or GC. The question is really whether to adapt now or at some stage in the next 15 years.
Legal Process Outsourcing
As ever, all comments/ quesitons to [email protected]
And here is the link to that interview: