Now in its 16th year, HBR Consulting’s Law Department Survey continues to serve as the leading source of market data on law department staffing, spending and management trends. It provides law departments with metrics to measure, manage and communicate their performance and to plan for continuous improvement.
This has been a transformative decade for the legal industry – and for HBR Consulting, as well. At the outset of the current decade, the legal industry was beginning to emerge from a recession. The decade saw a growing focus on value in legal service delivery, the rise of legal operations as a discipline, an abundant array of new technologies to help law departments and law firms better manage the business of law, and an evolving alignment with the voice of the client culminating in leading legal organizations’ desire to collaborate and co-innovate.
Market forces are beginning to push law firm IT functions to manage in a more complex environment, but also to continuously evolve and enhance the enablement of practice delivery. Attorneys are more mobile and more connected. Clients are more demanding, with more data, integration and interactions. Technology is evolving at a faster pace with more alternatives and complexity. And competition for IT talent is accelerating, not only across horizontal technology domains but across industries.
HBR was recently privileged to co-sponsor ARK’s second annual Law Firm Innovation Summit. The event welcomed 120 attendees, spanning a range of job titles including formal innovation titles, KM, IT, client value and development, COOs, marketing, pricing and legal project management, talent, educators, data analytics, sales and, of course, attorneys. This broad range of expertise provided a rich array of perspectives, making for fascinating presentations and conversations.
Reflecting on those interactions, I wanted to share a few of my and my colleagues’ takeaways:
It is an increasingly competitive market for law firms. Law departments are bringing more work in house, continuing to consolidate the number of outside firms they use, and sending more work to alternative legal service providers. To differentiate themselves, law firms of all sizes are seeking strategies to provide increased value to their clients, while simultaneously increasing profitability.
Law firm spending on technology continues to grow faster than other categories of firm operations and is now the third-largest area of overhead spending, behind only salaries and occupancy expenses, according to the 2019 Report on the State of the Legal Market by Managing Partner Forum.
Nothing ever stays the same, which means organizations that do not actively and correctly manage change may find themselves creeping downhill, gradually accelerating as the pace of transformation around them picks up. Fortunately, law departments have recognized that change management is a critical success factor in the face of increasing cost pressures. They are hard at work on change — but are they focused on the right areas to reap the greatest rewards from that change?
Managing a records retention and disposition program is one of the chronic challenges for any organization in the information age. Businesses and government agencies of all sizes are seeking to implement or improve these programs due to increased risk of cybercrime and data breaches, the complexities of complying with a variety of data privacy laws and regulations worldwide that dictate how long personally identifiable data can be retained, and the desire to reduce their data footprint in order to cut back on their storage expenses however possible.
It was great to see so many friends at ILTACON in Orlando last week – it was an excellent opportunity to network, learn and have fun.
Benchmarking is an effective way to help organizations identify best practices, compare themselves to their peers and reveal areas where there may be opportunities for improvement. Benchmarking in the legal business is no exception. Law firms recognize the value of benchmarking themselves against industry standards in areas including fees, financial performance and staffing ratios.