HBR’s “Law Firm Reference Architecture” Maps Common Business Operations of Law Firm

Josh Nardo | January 11, 2021

Today’s fast-changing client expectations and legal practice demands are forcing law firms to adapt their internal operations for how they will conduct business in the future. These operational changes require agile transformation across the three areas of people, processes and technology. In short, there are now more specialized skills needed to support and operate the newly defined roles, more interconnections between various law firm capabilities, and more technology needed to support user activity across the organization. This evolution in law firm operations calls for a common reference point that can serve as a quick-look guide for the firm’s professionals and leaders. This sort of reference framework can help provide a clear understanding of the firm’s internal operations and processes, including key client touch points.

HBR Consulting has leveraged our deep experience advising law firms to create a reference framework of the operational functions common to mid and large-size law firms: HBR’s Law Firm Reference Architecture.

Reference Architecture

This framework is intended to capture a broad representation of the best practices within a law firm. It provides a reference guide for the common operating areas of law firms, a model for the underlying infrastructure that allows firms to practice law and serve their clients, and a single view to illustrate how these functional areas are interconnected. Law firms can use this reference architecture as a common map to guide a few key internal purposes:

  • Communications — A vehicle to help attorneys and staff members better understand the firm’s operating functions and how they fit together;
  • Planning — A framework to guide discussions about how to more effectively plan and structure internal operations; and
  • Process Improvement — A starting point for assessing the firm’s capabilities within each functional area and to help identify gaps/opportunities for improvement.

HBR Consulting is uniquely positioned to advise law firms on best practices across the entire Law Firm Reference Architecture. In addition to helping law firms across all areas of client service delivery and business operations, our IT Strategy team works with firms to align their IT functions with the broader strategic goals of the organization. We understand how IT fits within the law firm organizational framework and can make sure it is supporting the firm’s overall business objectives.