The winds of change are blowing across the legal landscape. In Ontario, firms have been fairly insulated from the changes but this is no longer the case. Yet, many of the traditional legal systems that lawyers use such as pricing based on the billable hour, a lack of streamlined processes and aging partners who want to get their money out of the firm are just the very things that make law firms vulnerable to the competitive forces.
Enter accounting firms. They have ongoing relationships with clients and are speaking to them all the time. If not, they speak to them at least annually in order to do the books for the year. Accounting firms also tend to be project based – they will consult with a client for free to understand the need and then bill them for the project that addresses the need. Of course. not all accounting firms are like this but the best ones – the big ones – are.
When it comes to legal issues, there is a lot of low hanging fruit which accounting firms can pick off from lawyers. Things like Shareholder agreements are easily completed by law firm’s set up by accounting firms. Firms will have established a set of templates for these which allow them to complete the documents very quickly and easily for their clients and undercut the traditional law firm structure.
At the same time, clients are looking for ways to reduce costs. The older generation of corporate leaders are retiring giving way to a newer, less loyal base of newer leaders. They may or may not choose to adopt the same model as their predecessors – unless there is a good reason to do so.
Law firms see other firm’s as competitors but that is no longer the case. In fact, worrying about other firms is likely a waste of time compared to threats from other industries and technologies such as AI. Take a look at these 35 AI based applications – What if someone started up a firm based more on AI solutions than having practicing lawyers? This might not be feasible today but one can see that it is feasible in the future. Another observation from this list of applications is the range and breath of areas being tackled by AI.
So what can law firms do to prepare? Here are some ways:
- Move away from the billable hour to value billing.
- Streamline processes within the firm to make them more efficient.
- Install and use software that automates the delivery process thereby reducing the cost to the firm and increasing the gap between what is charged and what it costs the firm to do the work.
- Establish ongoing and free communication with clients to understand and anticipate their needs.
Getting started on these objectives will help firms prepare for the changes that are coming. At Triella, we not only do infrastructure (on premise, Cloud and Private Cloud – TriCloud) but we also offer solutions for knowledge workers to lower the cost of routine document production. Call us at 647.426.1004 to discuss your needs!
Charles Bennett is the Principal Consultant at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Charles can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Webroot Reseller.
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