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Great lawyers get out of bed to solve their clients’ problems. Truly great lawyers help their clients with their business problems as much as their legal ones.

And it is the greatest of those who recognise that the best way to help their clients is to look in the mirror and change themselves.

I’ve just spent two days with some of the greatest innovators inside and outside the legal profession, looking at how the practice of law is responding to transformational change, both in-house organisations and law firms.

What struck me was that in the same way that law firms are coming late to the project management party, many are also late to the transformation ball. Over the last 5 years, our clients have been undertaking a root and branch review of all of their operations, to enhance efficiency, take out cost and preserve margin.

In-house legal departments have been subjected to that as much as clients’ operations, finance, HR and other functions. For them to be able to effect the change demanded of them, they have had to wake up their law firms or talk to new legal services providers, and so the transformation message has been passed on.

Some firms have risen to the challenge: listened to their clients, looked at their processes, their people models and their technology investments, and taken a deep breath. The really focussed ones have done that across their whole firm, both legal and business services operations.

The key now for these is to remain agile, for we are the last in the food chain to decide to evolve. The markets, regulators and their customers forced our clients to change; our clients needed their legal teams to change; and they required that of us.

We need to move fast though, as there are some pretty big predators out there and they are getting bigger at our expense.

29 Jan 2015



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