Delivery of legal services: New directions in disruption and innovation

September 18, 2019

The increasing pace of change in client buying habits is driving a range of new ideas, technologies and innovations. To remain competitive, firms are deploying various new legal operational models. Sandpiper Partners “New Directions in Disruption and Innovation in the Delivery of Legal Services” event brought together firm leaders, legal tech companies and alternative legal services providers to discuss real-world initiatives that firms are undertaking to improve service delivery.

Here are the top three things we learned:

Firms see focusing on, and investing in, legal operations as core to their competitive success.

Improving legal operations enables firms to add revenue without increasing costs and it sets them apart from their competitors. Examples of legal operations initiatives cited by the panel include: creating strong legal project management teams; templating AFAs and scoping documents to drive consistency; investing in data analytics; creating collaboration platforms across firm offices and even across firms; and developing innovation centers, headed by Chief Innovation Officers – a new role at most firms.

The legal ecosystem is expanding and now includes non-traditional competitors and partners.

From talent management to finance, IT services to data analytics, progressive law firms are looking to new market entrants and specialized technologies to support firm operations, so lawyers can focus on high-value areas. In addition to what one panelist called “Collaborative Disaggregation” (partnering with non-traditional companies for non-core legal support to improve firm processes and service delivery) the panelists agreed that the most successful legal operations initiatives are those that are directly connected to their clients’ legal operations teams. Successful examples cited include client-dedicated legal operations teams that spend a portion of their time at client sites, legal operations support services built into client engagement agreements, and dedicated legal project management teams for specific client engagements.

The largest and most intriguing market entrants are the “Big Four” professional services firms, who have significantly larger scale and reach than most law firms.

Panelists representing the professional services leaders engaged in an informative and lively discussion around their disruptive impact. The Big Four panelists pointed out that while law firms are focused on managing legal complexities and tend to leverage expertise as a differentiator, consultancies are more focused on process complexities and providing solutions that combine people, process and technologies. To match these strengths, law firms should consider expanding their business partnerships to deliver bundled solutions. There was no clear consensus around the benefit or detriment the large professional services firms will have on market share or the competitive landscape, but one thing was clear: to thrive in this age of disruption, law firms are going to have to align their service delivery models to address their new competitive reality.

Find out more about how Williams Lea helps law firms navigate the disruptive realities of today’s legal market and stay ahead of the competition. Check out our Legal Sector page.

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