The revolution in the legal services market may have been a long time coming but, it is here and here to stay. For some the revolution came early, for others there’s still some catching up to do.
What we have been struck by is the resilience and creativity shown by the in-house market. We have been genuinely impressed by the desire from General Counsel (GC) to look for new ways to deliver legal services and, as a result, the way in which they are re-engineering their law firm relationships.
Aside from the ongoing pressures to do more for less, one of the biggest challenges faced by GCs is being able to find lawyers who can do more than just provide sound legal advice. While that might sound obvious to some, many General Counsel have long bemoaned the lack of real business advice they have received from law firms and genuine value add and so they are taking matters into their own hands.
Admittedly, for a long time there have been few alternatives for them to choose from. However, more and more GCs have been successful in taking an alternative route.
As a result, the days of law firms simply servicing legal work in the way they always have done are diminishing. Instead an era of delivering value is emerging. The new starting point for lawyers is ‘what business value can I bring to my client’s business with the service I provide?’, rather than ‘how am I going to service this legal transaction?’ In reality, this is where the future for legal services lies.
Clever pricing is all well and good and a likely fix to a short term problem but, increasingly genuine business thinking coupled with a legal solution is what is required. It has to be about driving efficiency. Without exception this can only be done by working out how the whole business works rather than the legal matter. Legal services providers who play the long game will be rewarded.
In our bids we discuss how we add genuine value by assisting teams to improve processes and systems which we are uniquely able to do due to our team’s in-house experience. In the last 12 months, we have seen an increase in demand from clients who are taking us up on the offer. In almost all of these matters we have then handed back a revolutionary new way of working into the business. I can see how some might think that we are doing ourselves out of job but think again: it is exactly this kind of value that makes a lasting difference and is where the future direction of travel lies for legal services providers.
The successful legal services model will continually challenge the status quo. In fact, rather than feel threatened we were absolutely delighted when a client told us that his interaction with one of our lawyer consultants led him to think about recruiting such a position to the board as an adviser. This is exactly the unexpected value law firms’ need to be delivering.
The future is here and only legal services providers who take the whole business approach will thrive. As lawyers it’s our role to innovate, evolve and adapt and provide General Counsel with the ‘light bulb’ moment when they realise just what truly is possible.
In our next blog we talk to Dan Fitz, Group General Counsel and Company Secretary for BT Group plc about his vision for the plc