Thursday VQ attended Legal Futures conference "2020 Vision",
that focused on showcasing innovation and debating what the future
of legal services will look like.
The conference started out with a presentation from Patricia
Greer, Chief of Corporate Affairs at the Law Society. She presented
the results of Law Society's most comprehensive ever study
forecasting the legal services sector. This analysis resulted in
four possible scenarios of the future legal profession. She
stressed that this only is scenarios and no predictions. They
cannot predict the future but only be aware of that some changes
probably will come. The scenarios presented were based on the two
parameters buyer behavior and business enhancement.
On the most developed part of the business enhancement scale,
she described the two different scenarios described as the "Wise
counsel" and "The Law as an App". If buyers are shaping the future,
the scenario "Law as an App" could be the possible scenario and it
is described as a highly dynamic and competitive world in which
only the fittest, and quickest to adapt, survive. ´Leading´ buyers
play an active role in shaping the service they want and they are
supported in this by technical advancements. In this scenario,
innovation in the broadest sense has transformed the market. If
buyers instead are more "receiving" - I e buyers present very
limited stimulus for providers to change - the "Wise Counsel"
scenarios is a more plausible scenario. In this scenario legal
expertise is highly valued and demand for good quality legal
services is strong. Here innovation in the market has tended to be
enhancing rather than transformational. The two other scenarios on
the low part of the business enhancement scale, was "The Mini
Clubmen" and the "Bleak House".
Here you can find further information about that analysis.
There was a panel discussion about the importance of the brand
for delivering legal services. Christina Blacklaws, Director of
Co-Operative Legal Services, stressed the importance of a trusted
brand. Several panelists seemed worried about the delivery part of
the brand and talked about the importance of consistency in the
delivery of legal services. Gabe Miller, Managing Attorney of
Jacoby & Meyers - America's largest full-service consumer law
firm - concluded that if you want the law firm to be run as a
business you should look outside the legal sector and hire people
with great experience from running a franchise operations or
running process outsourcing organizations. That way you can also
build an efficient and consistent legal service provider.
In the session "Innovation nation" Jonathan Whittaker, Senior
Partner at SAS Daniels LLP, concluded that you have to bring the
legal business into the 21th century and really treat law as a
business. It is not a question about fixed fees. It is about
delivering services that meet client demands and pricing it
accordingly. Naturally time recording is done primarily for
internal follow-ups to further develop the pricing structure.
One interesting example of the transformation process was being
described by the company "Tees Law". It was a combined presentation
by their former Managing Partner and now Chairman David Redfern and
their non-lawyer Chief Executive Officer Paul Stothard. Tees
law was a profitable ordinary law firm that realized that the
partnership model is dead and that they ought to prepare for the
future. Therefore they initiated a process towards an ABS structure
and hired a non-lawyer CEO. The reason for this change can best be
described by the following quote by Paul Stothard: "We don't know
for sure what's going to happen in the legal sector but… we want to
be ´best dressed´ when many opportunity arise." Therefore, they
have now changed the corporate structure, the management structure
and outsourced/hosted IT etc.
Another interesting example of an ABS is Schillings, which was
presented by their Chief Operation Officer Christopher Mills. They
have developed a multi-disciplinary business focusing on Risk
Consulting, Law and IT Security with the aim to become a reputable
defense business. By developing this as an ABS they can
deliver all these services form the same brand and with only one
invoice. It would be interesting to see something similar in
Sweden, with for example an Information security company enhancing
their business model to also provide risk consulting and legal
Here is also a further blogpost about the conference.
the warnings from PwC earlier this week, that law firms has to
radically restructure if they are to survive, the conference proved
interesting possibilities of how to approach the future.