Law firm management
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Law firm management
Law firms face unprecedented change. Increasing regulation; greater competition; and more demanding clients. This stream looks at solutions, challenges ad opinions - and offers suggestions
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Rescooped by John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders from law firm mergers
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Legal firms should be looking to their brands to secure their futures

An example of such a transaction is the “mega-merger” of the UK and US arms of SNR Denton with Parisian Salans and Canadian Raser Milner Casgrain. The resulting law firm is said to be capable of winning work from the ...


Via Sally Calverley
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Sally Calverley's curator insight, May 6, 2013 5:32 AM
This article is really about branding rather than mergers but offers a reminder that considerations about brand should be part of the planning for a merger - not an afterthought!
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's comment, May 6, 2013 11:04 AM
Exactly our view - we've recently blogged 11 suggestions of things to watch when agreeing to merge - and to make sure are completed after!
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Investment banker predicts 8,000 law firms will disappear in next decade | Legal Post | Financial Post

Investment banker predicts 8,000 law firms will disappear in next decade | Legal Post | Financial Post | Law firm management | Scoop.it

A prominent European investment banker has predicted that 8,000 law firms will seek mergers or disappear in the next five to ten years


Via Sally Calverley
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:
I think it inevitable we will see a lot of law firms disappearing. The accountancy profession may be a reasonable predictor: think of how many firms there were two decades ago, and how many now. Our belief is that law firms have four options: get big; get small; get niche or get out. We also think there will be a number of demergers (get small or niche) as law firms realise that being all things to all clients is not a great way to build a sustainable busines
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Sally Calverley's curator insight, May 6, 2013 5:42 AM
This sounds alarming: 8,000 of the 10,000 disappearing? But it will still leave over 2,000 firms - which feels about right.
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's comment, May 6, 2013 10:58 AM
I think it inevitable we will see a lot of law firms disappearing. The accountancy profession may be a reasonable predictor: think of how many firms there were two decades ago, and how many now.
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's comment, May 6, 2013 10:59 AM
Our belief is that law firms have four options: get big; get small; get niche or get out. We also think there will be a number of demergers (get small or niche) as law firms realise that being all things to all clients is not a great way to build a sustainable business.
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Legal Solutions Blog | Blog | Making the case for process improvement

Legal Solutions Blog | Blog | Making the case for process improvement | Law firm management | Scoop.it
By capitalizing on methodologies used by other sectors, law firms can enhance their work efficiencies, therefore creating a competitive advantage.
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

Some great reasoning for introducing Process Improvement to your law firm. Think quality, cost management, and improving client management - and you'll be on the way to getting why more law firms are turning to this.

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SRA confirms one in four conveyancers victims of fraud

SRA confirms one in four conveyancers victims of fraud | Law firm management | Scoop.it

The latest research from the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) has confirmed that law firms could be over-optimistic about their exposure to fraud.


The figures revealed that a quarter conveyancers have experienced attempted fraud with clients either attempting to commit property-related offences or money laundering, Legal Futures reported.


Yet despite this high volume, only three-quarters of the firms which reported fraud felt they’d encounter similar problems in the future; the respondents which had already experienced fraud felt as though it was unlikely it would happen again.

John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

If nothing else, this piece highlights not only the risks that solicitors run in conveyancing (25% of all cases, according to the SRA); but the need for risk management, good processes, systems and controls.

 

And to those who say they don't have time, I'd ask them to balance the need for a few small steps for each case, many of which firms are legally obliged to take anyway, against the cost of insurance and fee earner time in putting things right. After it's too late...

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Firms still failing to ask for client feedback, survey shows | The Law Gazette

Most law firms are failing to get proper feedback from clients after carrying out work for them, new research has found.

 

A YouGov SixthSense survey of more than 2,000 adults found just 20% of those who had used law firms and solicitors in the last three years were asked to complete satisfaction surveys.

John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

Feedback on a lack of feedback - showing that despite (some) lawyers becoming increasingly aware that clients are important to their future, and knowing that they need to be responsive to client's views, feedback is not sought.

 

Amazing. Yet does your firm have a process for collecting data and understanding client satisfaction, or lack of it? And even if it does, will it get acted on? We know of one firm who paid for a (very expensive) client feedback survey,,,and two years later the report was unearthed in response to a question of ours. Nothing had been done. Nothing. Zip. Nada.

 

Is your firm any better?

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Vehicle incident manager FMG to launch ABS with NewLaw - The Lawyer

Vehicle incident manager FMG to launch ABS with NewLaw - The Lawyer | Law firm management | Scoop.it
Vehicle incident manager FMG to launch ABS with NewLaw The Lawyer FMG, which has received regulatory approval for the venture, becomes one of the first fleet management companies to set up a new legal entity and will direct the freshly launched...
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

More evidence that the legal landscape is changing. Even three years ago, this would never have happened. Now, more than ever, law firms and Managing Partnres need to think about their strategy and forward planning.

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New Managing Partner at Cartwright King

Birmingham law firm seeks further expansion, after tripling turnover in seven years.

John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

Good news from the Birmngham legal sector. Expanding firm with ambitiions based on good foundations. Tough market, though - so we wish them well.

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Law firm tie-up helping 'create opportunities' - Herald Scotland

Law firm tie-up helping 'create opportunities' - Herald Scotland | Law firm management | Scoop.it
Herald Scotland Law firm tie-up helping 'create opportunities' Herald Scotland The tie-up between Burness and Paull & Williamsons was formalised on December 1 last year in a move that jumped the mid-tier players towards the top of the Scottish law...
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John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's curator insight, March 25, 2013 5:29 PM

Yet more good news from a legal business in Scotland. Great to read that new business is being won as a result of a successful merger. Many firms focus on the integration piece so much, they forget the business side of retaining existing and winning new clients.

 

We've blogged about the merits of making mergers work. It's good to see when they do.

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Trouble for personal injury law firms means trouble for claimants

Trouble for personal injury law firms means trouble for claimants | Law firm management | Scoop.it
Joshua Rozenberg: While there is little public sympathy for solicitors the truth is that people will soon find it harder to claim compensation
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

The Unintended Consequences of legal cost management by the government could well be that claimants suffer - as well as law firms. The latter will get less sympathy than the fomer, but the former will eventually end up paying more.

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Poll predicts cull of north-west firms | The Law Gazette

Poll predicts cull of north-west firms | The Law Gazette | Law firm management | Scoop.it

Almost a fifth of law firm managing partners in north-west England are considering closing down their firm, according to a survey published today.

 

 

The poll of 300 firm leaders by Liverpool firm O’Connors found the vast majority of respondents believed that planned changes to civil justice would reduce their profits.

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John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's curator insight, March 18, 2013 2:16 PM

On top of the recent more high-profile failures of Cobbetts, Blakemores Lawyers2You, Atteys and Semple Fraser, comes this news. Law is not the success it once seemed.

 

Interestingly, disturbingly perhaps, two-thirds of firms that pay referral fees will 'continue to do business' on a 'self-referral' basis. Wonder what the SRA will say about that, especially as this area is now covered by Indicative Behaviours...

 

Others are planning to increase their direct marketing spend. Let's hope they do it wisely to get an ROI from the investment...

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Bitter reaction to closure of Birmingham law firm Blakemores

Blakemores, in Great Charles Street, Birmingham

Regulators have been accused of “destroying” long-established Midland law firm Blakemores and throwing around 250 employees out of work with “farcical” haste



Read Morehttp://www.birminghampost.net/birmingham-business/birmingham-business-news/other-uk-business/2013/03/15/bitter-reaction-to-closure-of-birmingham-law-firm-blakemores-65233-32989790/#ixzz2NsjrUuKx

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What to say...

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Strategy vs Operations: Understanding The Difference | Leadership In Action

Strategy vs Operations: Understanding The Difference | Leadership In Action | Law firm management | Scoop.it
In today’s competitive business world, effective managers need to understand the difference between the operational side of the business and the strategy
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

A different way of looking at these two separate aspects of business leadership and management. I love the analogy, and the emphasis that both aspects need to work together to maintain directed forward momentum.

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Process design and mapping 101 for lawyers

Process design and mapping 101 for lawyers | Law firm management | Scoop.it
1. What is process design? Process design is the activity which shapes the form and purpose of the services that a law firm delivers to its clients, and the process that produces them. 2.What is pr...
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

Clear overview of process mapping - something we believe more law firms need to get to grips with. This and project management are two key skills for law firms going forward - at least, those who expect to continue to grow profits.

 

Process improvements and project management can help increase efficiency, improve effectiveness; meet client demands for cost-management and better communications skills; be compliant with regulations; and enhance working practices. As more clients expect fixed fees to cover more types of work, process and project management become critical.

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Thomas Eggar ramps up with £42m Pritchard Englefield deal - The Lawyer

Thomas Eggar ramps up with £42m Pritchard Englefield deal - The Lawyer | Law firm management | Scoop.it

Thomas Eggar ramps up with £42m Pritchard Englefield deal The Lawyer Thomas Eggar is set to merge with 40-lawyer London firm Pritchard Englefield, boosting the former's revenue by 17 per cent to roughly £42m and more than doubling the size of its...


Via Sally Calverley
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

As Sally Calverley posits - one to watch. Our experience in dealing with provincial and city lawyers is that cultural 'variances' will play as much a part in success as the 'synergies' always suggested.

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Sally Calverley's curator insight, May 6, 2013 5:38 AM
Here we go... The raid on London firms has begun! National and regional firms have long thought they need a London presence to be taken seriously. Perhaps this is true (perhaps) but it does merit careful discussion about what impact acquiring a London office will have on, for instance, salaries, culture and so on. Will they really be able to move the costs out of London? Another one to watch..
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's comment, May 6, 2013 11:01 AM
As you say, Sally - one to watch. Our experience in dealing with provincial and city lawyers is that cultural 'variances' will play as much a part in success as the 'synergies' always suggested.
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SRA CEO Antony Townsend to stand down | News | The Lawyer

SRA CEO Antony Townsend to stand down | News | The Lawyer | Law firm management | Scoop.it

The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) chief executive Antony Townsend has announced today that he will be stepping down later in the year.

John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

An interesting move. What does it mean when a CEO steps down before the process of appointing a successor has even begun? Other than a lack of  succession planning and forward thinking, perhaps?

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Law firm Shakespeares sees integration as key - Telegraph

Law firm Shakespeares sees integration as key - Telegraph | Law firm management | Scoop.it
The achievement of Shakespeares in becoming the second-largest law firm in the Midlands and the 50th biggest in the UK should not be underestimated.
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

Good news from a great firm, focusing on what really matters when acquiring other practices. Integration of people, systems and processes is a key operational focus, post-completion.

 

And the right strategic choice in the first place is their key strategic focus. The legal sector is changing, and increasingly quickly. Shakespeare's are taking advantage - and in the process are moving into the top50 UK firsm.

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Legal process outsourcing grows by leaps and bounds | Legal Post | Financial Post

Legal process outsourcing grows by leaps and bounds | Legal Post | Financial Post | Law firm management | Scoop.it
Technology will facilitating outsourcing, and that could be good news to recent law grads looking for alternative places to work
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

It's one way to save money - providing, of course, the price is right, confidentiality is tight, and quality of product is paramount. When outsourcing work, law firms need to get their own processes, oversight and strategy spot-on. Else they'll lose out.

 

So, this timely article looks at what the more advanced legal services firms do, these days. Interesting...

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More law firms adopting non-legal consulting practices | International Business Development

More law firms adopting non-legal consulting practices | International Business Development | Law firm management | Scoop.it
International law firm Withers LLP has set up a non-legal consulting practice, the Withers Consulting Group (WCG), which the International Advisor reported
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

Could there be a future for law firms in the non-legal field? Another way to leverage the knowledge that lawyers build up, perhaps.


Except that those law firms already ahead of the game, will already be initiating or developing these services. Already...

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New from David Maister: How to Build Accountability in a Law Firm

New from David Maister: How to Build Accountability in a Law Firm | Law firm management | Scoop.it
In March 2013, I spoke at a law firm retreat on a Friday afternoon, after which David Maister emerged from retirement to speak for three hours on Saturday morning.  If you get nothing else from this blog post, I hope...
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

David Maister comes out of retirement, not just to shoot the breeze, but shoot the pigeon!

 

It's all about behaviour, fairness - and true equity of treatment. Yet lawyers and law firms, full of bright, intelligent people just don't get the human side of managing their peers right.

 

Read on for more...

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Troubled Ashton Fox bought by Antony Hodari in pre-pack deal | The Law Gazette

North-west personal injury firm Antony Hodari has announced the acquisition of Preston firm Ashton Fox in a pre-pack deal. Ashton Fox went in to administration last month.

 

The deal, for an undisclosed amount, includes all work in progress, totaling around 8,000 cases, predominantly on mortgage mis-selling and right to buy. All 24 Ashton Fox staff have been retained to ensure a smooth transition.

John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

More evidence of 'pre-packs', following Cobbetts and DWF; and supporting evidence for the recent claim that 300 firms in the North-West are thinking about closing.

 

In the meantime, the SRA are 'reviewing its policy'.

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Laid-off lawyers secure new jobs

Laid-off lawyers secure new jobs | Law firm management | Scoop.it
Most of the lawyers made redundant when law firm Semple Fraser collapsed recently have already found new jobs, administrators say. (Laid-off lawyers secure new jobs: Most of the lawyers made redundant when law firm Semple Fraser collapsed rec...
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

Some very good news for the staff affected by the Semple Fraser collapse. Although we deeply regret this failure, we're delighted that so may have been able to secure new positions.

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Perspectives on Practice Management: The Regulator and the Practitioner | SlawTips

Perspectives on Practice Management: The Regulator and the Practitioner | SlawTips | Law firm management | Scoop.it

...so to start, I posed this question:

What are the three most common practice management issues each of us encounters in our respective day-to-day roles, and how do we address them?

David provided his list:

Complaints from clients that they don’t hear from their lawyerFees are too highMatters take too long

I provided mine:

Staff supervision without micromanagement.Maintaining client communicationsCreating templates to establish best practices
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

From Canada, a 'conversation' between someone who works for the Law Society of British Columbia, and a lawyer.

 

And, perhaps not altogether unsurprisingly, many of the issues are the same.

 

And, less surprisingly, so are some of the answers both respondents provide. Because we've been preaching them for some while. Get your strategy, processes - and most of all, get your culture - right, and some of the thornier issues will reduce. Sometimes significantly.

 

Law firms should be treated in a more business-like fashion than many of those who see today.

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SRA commits millions to interventions | The Law Gazette

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has already used 10% of its entire annual budget intervening in failed firms in 2013, the organisation revealed today.

Since the start of the year, the SRA has required around £2.2m to secure the files of firms going into administration

John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

This warning after Blakemore's and Atteys, and excluding Cobbetts, total spend so far £2.2M. Annual intervention budget £1.3M. Either the situation was badly misread, or badly underbudgeted.

 

And there are 56 *more* firms where intervention is 'highly probably' and 'possible'.

 

How many law firms are taking action to manage their business, cashflow and costs?

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SRA reveals financial instability indicators as it relaxes rule on reporting non-material breaches - LEGAL FUTURES

SRA reveals financial instability indicators as it relaxes rule on reporting non-material breaches - LEGAL FUTURES | Law firm management | Scoop.it

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has outlined the three key financial ‘warning signs’ against which it will assess firms’ financial stability as a key element of its supervisory work over the next year.

 

It also announced that in an effort to “focus on the issues that really matter”, law firm compliance officers will soon no longer have to make an annual report of non-material rule breaches – but they will still have to collect the information.

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John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's curator insight, March 18, 2013 5:15 AM

Three key indicators of financial instability which may "...sound obvious..."

 

Unfortunately, too many firms do NOT consider their financial situation objectively enough, preferring to bury their head in their sand.

 

What isn't clear is how the SRA will identify 'the real and present danger' without some kind of regular reporting. Especially when the Annual Report hasn't been resolved yet...

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SRA paints grim picture of financial instability among law firms - LEGAL FUTURES

SRA paints grim picture of financial instability among law firms - LEGAL FUTURES | Law firm management | Scoop.it
SRA paints grim picture of financial instability among law firms

Desperate solicitors are pillaging their VAT receipts, inner circles of managers are sitting on bad financial results, and firms are borrowing heavily to maintain drawings, according to a bleak risk assessment by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

Wow. Bleak - or scare-mongering? Either way. law firms are under more financial pressure than ever before.

 

Figures released by the SRA show that nine interventions took place during the first two months of the year alone. Indications are that the banks, understandably, are seeking to reduce exposure. A far cry from when I used to lend money to solicitor practices - back in the day, they were considered blue chip, rock-steady, borrowers.

 

How times have changed. One piece of good news in this, from our experience of managing law firm offices who had been losing significant money, there are a number of ways in which cashflow can be improved. If you have the focus - and this news should bring the need for cash management into sharp focus!

 

The first step, though, is admitting you need some help - not from an SRA intervention, perhaps - and being prepared to change.

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