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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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5 Lessons About Navigating Change

5 Lessons About Navigating Change | Law firm management | Scoop.it
Change is like going on an expedition: It can be a trudge or a hike. Take it all in and enjoy the view, or focus on the faults -- it's absolutely a choice.
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

I enjoyed reading this - a different and reflective look at  change, and we might treat it.

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250 jobs go as Lawyers2you becomes latest PI casualty

All 250 solicitors and employees of Midlands firm Blakemores, owner of the consumer brand Lawyers2you, were today told to clear their desks and go home after an intervention by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

 

The innovative and fast-growing firm appears to be the latest casualty of a crisis in the personal injury sector. One analyst blamed cashflow problems against the ‘toxic combination’ of legal aid cuts and the shrinking of the PI market.

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

A sad day for those concerned.

 

Another law firm bites the dust through cashflow problems, with a probable combined cause of legal aid cuts and PI market problems. Banks and clients will want to be sure their debts and instructions are safe, and staff will want to know their own futures.

 

Of more concern is the likelihood that this will not be the last law firm to suffer cashflow problems. More than ever, law firms need to be run as businesses.

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Law firm 'regrets' advising the Cup Trust's corporate trustee

Law firm 'regrets' advising the Cup Trust's corporate trustee (Third Sector) http://t.co/Z2BUrzn1YN
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

We bet they are.

 

But before you chortle too much, to what extent do *you* know which clients your law firm is advising? Do clients like this get subject to any kind of review, or do you trust to lawyer judgement? Those same lawyers you're exorting to bill more...

 

Risk Management includes managing reputation...

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PI firms will "undoubtedly fold", says Law Society chief - LITIGATION FUTURES

PI firms will "undoubtedly fold", says Law Society chief - LITIGATION FUTURES | Law firm management | Scoop.it
RT @zebralc: PI firms will "undoubtedly fold", says Law Society chief - LITIGATION FUTURES: http://t.co/uKOybk2KOL
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

...and they are already. No great insight for those who know the legal sector.

 

Our concern is for clients who really need some help. But from where...

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Dozens of jobs threatened as top law firm goes into administration

Dozens of jobs threatened as top law firm goes into administration | Law firm management | Scoop.it
Semple Fraser LLP has 120 staff and partners at its offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester.
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

Another sad case of a law firm going under. Without the details, it's difficult to know why, although this report indicates strategic planning and over-reliance on a difficult market sector were to blame.

 

Our experience is that many law firms don't undertake strategic planning - and those that do predominantly don't turn those good goals into measurable objectives.

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Norton Rose issues warning shot to underperforming partners | News | The Lawyer

Norton Rose issues warning shot to underperforming partners | News | The Lawyer | Law firm management | Scoop.it
Norton Rose has warned selected partners to improve their performance or risk being asked to leave or be moved down the lockstep.
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

More law firms are 'actively managing' partner expectations. That shouldn't be a surprise. The comments on the blog aren't a surprise, either - there's still a sense that lawyers and partners should be exempt fromt he hurly-burly of the real world.

 

Have I got news for you...

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Is Your Terrible Culture Killing Your Business? - Forbes

Is Your Terrible Culture Killing Your Business? - Forbes | Law firm management | Scoop.it
I recently reached out to an executive who operates a pediatric practice to learn how he manages his company culture.
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

A great example of how to 'manage' organisational culture.


For a light-hearted 'take' on how *not* to run your culture, read this: http://blog.oakviewconsulting.co.uk/a-story-about-monkeys

 

...and for further evidence of how 'good' cultures help people thrive, read this:

 

http://blog.oakviewconsulting.co.uk/your-company-culture

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Avoiding Extinction | The Law Firm Revolution

Avoiding Extinction | The Law Firm Revolution | Law firm management | Scoop.it

“In my view, firms that do not change their business model and embrace innovation are dousing themselves in gasoline and marching along a burning platform to their own destruction.”
- Sylvester Bowen, CEO and chairman of Bowen, Fong & Chandri

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

“Law firms themselves are far too cautious and incremental to make these types of changes on their own. They need to be prodded by clients and they need to lose business to other legal service providers. Only then will meaningful change occur.”

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Are alternative business structures hastening the collapse of U.K. law firms? | Legal Post | Financial Post

Are alternative business structures hastening the collapse of U.K. law firms? | Legal Post | Financial Post | Law firm management | Scoop.it
Another British firm is in administration, the Law Society Gazette reports
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

A question - is the advent of ABS hastening the demise of 'traditional' law firms? The writer of this article notices the coincidence of ABS structures starting one year ago...

 

We don't recognise any causal effect. Our view is that it is the normal course of affairs in the commercial world - where businesses fail to offer services or products to willing customers at prices they can afford, and at a profit, they will go our of business. There is no written law which makes lawyers immune - it is more likely the failure to adapt ways to account for the new paradigm after sixteen years of unbroken growth.


Slightly polemic, perhaps...

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Integrating LEAN Process Improvement

Integrating LEAN Process Improvement | Law firm management | Scoop.it

Companies can see tremendous improvement by focusing on the principals of LEAN Process Improvement.

 

Strong executive commitment is of upmost importance when implementing any continuous improvement process such as LEAN or Six Sigma. It is important to ensure executive commitment by aligning and reporting results using current corporate measures and strategic initiatives."

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

LEAN and Six Sigma are as much about change management and change leadership, as about process improvement.

 

We're constantly surprised at how infrequently customer requirements appear in process maps or value streams. Yet the Voice of the Customer and the Voice of the Employee are two of the most important aspects of improvements.

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Full distribution "on the wane" as big firms look to retain profit - LEGAL FUTURES

Full distribution "on the wane" as big firms look to retain profit - LEGAL FUTURES | Law firm management | Scoop.it
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

Sea-change stuff! Truly a quantum leap in managing partnership profits, and probably a reflection of the growing realisation that financial strength is increasingly important.

 

It might also reflect the likelihood of outside investors requirements for firms to grow their value and provide acquisition or investment funds. Equity shares and dividends only go so far...

 

The recent collapses of Halliwells, Cobbetts, Attley and Calibre all testify to the need for good financial practice. I suspect the COFA role might also help nudge this good practice into more firms.

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Fresh controversy over Cobbetts deal | The Law Gazette

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has rebuffed calls to review its approach to pre-pack sales, amid renewed controversy over the buyout of high-profile law firm casualty Cobbetts by DWF.

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

THere'll be more law firm failures in 2013 - will they all be treated in the same way as Cobbetts? Client monies are more likely protected - but what about creditors? Will suppliers now take more notice of law firm defaults? Will banks more likely take increased security and want more reporting?

 

And what about the COFA - will they bear responsibility for any 'pre-packs'? According to Principle 8, they do have a responsibility to run the firms "...in accordance with proper governance...and risk management principles"

 

What do you think?

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Growing through mergers? Beware the block negligence claim, warns leading PII adviser - LEGAL FUTURES

Growing through mergers? Beware the block negligence claim, warns leading PII adviser - LEGAL FUTURES | Law firm management | Scoop.it

Last year was 12 months of unprecedented merger activity in the legal market.


Experts are predicting that the trend will continue in 2013 with more mergers as firms seek to stay competitive by increasing their geographic spread or achieve shared critical mass in the marketplace.

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

We agree with this summary - one of our blogs talks about the need to make sure that you get the due diligence right. It's too late afterwards - we don't know whether sufficient warranties were taken out as part of the deal, but the financial costs will stay with the purchaser for a while...

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SRA Handbook – Changes Easy as ABC? | Wilkins Kennedy

SRA Handbook – Changes Easy as ABC? | Wilkins Kennedy | Law firm management | Scoop.it

he Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have announced new rule changes effective of January 2013 which sees a difference in the way that Financial Services are regulated in the areas of conduct and compensation.


Some of these changes are likely to affect the way that your practice operates, so here is a summary of a few key changes that the new Handbook (version 6!) will be including:

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

A useful insight into the most recent SRA changes - they could affect you, especiallt around the referral Outcomes and Indicative Behaviours...

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SRA approach to referral fee ban receives LSB green light - LEGAL FUTURES

SRA approach to referral fee ban receives LSB green light - LEGAL FUTURES | Law firm management | Scoop.it
SRA approach to referral fee ban receives LSB green light

SRA: told to be transparent about ABS applications around referral fee ban

The Legal Services Board (LSB) yesterday put the seal of approval on the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s plans to regulate the referral fee ban.

 

 

The news came as the Law Society pressed the LSB to provide reassurance that the way referral fees are regulated will be consistent across the entire legal profession.

 

 

The LSB formally approved the changes to the SRA Handbook that will from 1 April introduce two new outcomes – that those regulated by the SRA should not pay or be paid a “prohibited referral fee” as set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 – supported by three new indicative behaviours.

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

...more Indicative Behaviours. Interesting. Allows firms to manage their business more appropriately - we've come across one firm who have been advised by their regulation consultant that they need to get agreements with EVERY referral source over the last six years. Whether or not they are paid (this form doesn't pay) or not; and even if the referral came from one who rarel makes referrals.

 

Is it really necessary? Or are some creating work? Or have we misunderstood what 'Indicative Behaviours' means?

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UK law firms revise down income expectations | City A.M.

UK law firms revise down income expectations | City A.M. | Law firm management | Scoop.it

SUBDUED growth has driven top law firms to lower their expectations for annual fee increases this year, despite a buoyant start to 2013.

 

According to a survey from business advisory Deloitte, the UK’s top 100 law firms by revenue have revised down their expectations for annual fee increases to 3.3 per cent, from 5.7 per cent at the start of the year.

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

So will law firms review how they are managing costs and processes. Those who can, do and will ought to enjoy a significant competitive advantage.

 

They'll be more likely to give clients what they seek, and even more likely to produce their legal advice cost-effectively, too.

 

Unless we're wrong, process and project management will come to the fore. And those who do it well will prosper. All other things being equal...

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The seven deadly sins of law firm mergers | Jepson Holt

The seven deadly sins of law firm mergers | Jepson Holt | Law firm management | Scoop.it

The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins is an idea that can be applied to the area of law firm mergers where one wrong move can have damaging consequences for a firm.


Lack of expertise...

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

We agree with this - two firms witrh problems merging will create one bigger firm with bigger problems. And the rationale goes out of the window really quickly. Especially when the underlying goal is to resolve financial issues...

 

We've blogged about this, too - if you really want to go ahead, whether it's for good reasons or not, you need to get the integration right.

 

Who knows, you might find that by following the procedure objectively, you decide not to go ahead. For the right reasons...

 

http://www.waderobinson.co.uk/dont-just-merge-plan-think-then-act/

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300 law firms still don't have compliance officers - LEGAL FUTURES

300 law firms still don't have compliance officers - LEGAL FUTURES | Law firm management | Scoop.it

More than two months since law firms were meant to have their compliance officers in place, around 300 firms still do not have them, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has revealed.

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

A few law firms, admittedly - and going by past performance, it may even be that those defaulting from this now overdue process are fewer than the SRA will admit.

 

Nonetheless, the overall impression is that some law firms seem unable to manage their own compliance affairs. Worrying...

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10 Things Your Law Firm Boss Wants You To Know, but Isn’t Going to Tell You

10 Things Your Law Firm Boss Wants You To Know, but Isn’t Going to Tell You | Law firm management | Scoop.it
When you show up for work at a law firm, you realize pretty quickly that there’s a lot to learn. Some things people will tell you, but there’s a lot of stuff no one’s going to tell you.
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

Amusing anecdotes and great advice for law firm employees... Read. Smile. Be frustrated at the arrogance of some partners. And get on with it.

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What does the legal profession think of the SRA? Regulation solicitors

What does the legal profession think of the SRA? Regulation solicitors | Law firm management | Scoop.it
Who regulates the regulator? Relations between the SRA and the solicitors it regulates seem to be at an all-time low. You only need to read the comments se
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

 

All is not well in the world of the SRA. Read my partner's blog to get our perspective on their performance, and read our concerns over reputation and operations...

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Connecting the Dots: Carrying Costs, Outsourcing, Contract Lawyers and Working from Home

Connecting the Dots: Carrying Costs, Outsourcing, Contract Lawyers and Working from Home | Law firm management | Scoop.it
Within hours of publishing my article reacting to Yahoo's reversal of a longstanding work-from-home policy, I was engaged in a lively debate with a law firm managing partner regarding the benefits ...
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's insight:

Why would any well-managed business - or law firm - try to be all things to all men? Amd staff accordingly? Especially when the 'knowledge workers' - fee-earners - are expensive?

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John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's curator insight, March 1, 2013 9:40 AM

Why would any well-managed business - or law firm - try to be all things to all men? Amd staff accordingly? Especially when the 'knowledge workers' - fee-earners - are expensive?

Annabel Kaye's comment, March 19, 2013 5:05 AM
Our team have always worked from home for as much time as possible - losing the commute frees up time for family or home and losing interruptions makes the writing and thinking side of the job more productive. As long as there is proper provison for client access - why not?
John Wade: pragmatic support for law firm leaders's comment, March 19, 2013 6:14 PM
Why not indeed! My only slight reservation is that I know from working in law firms that lawyers (and clients!) gain a great deal from the ability to interact and discuss options. As long as that's encouraged, I'm all for it. There are firms like Excello which use weekly Skype tele-conferencing to keep communicating.
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New NatWest legal benchmarking report now available to SME law firms

New NatWest legal benchmarking report now available to SME law firms | Law firm management | Scoop.it
2013 NatWest legal report by Robert Mowbray

 

A free downloadable report that looks in detail at the profits being made by law firms outside the UK’s top 100 has been published by NatWest. And it shows that law firms with fees below £25m are struggling to turn those fees into real profit.

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

Wow! Get this. Read it. Act. But only if you're a law firm Managing Partner who is concerned about how to tun revenue into profit.

 

If your law firm has revenues below £25M, this free report from NatWest posits that you will struggle to make anything like decent profits for your law firm. Interestingly, one question we ask is whether the firm comprises lawyers who happen to be in a shared space with shared facilities; or if it's a business that happens to be practising the law.

 

The difference in the question is subtle; the difference in the outcome is amazing!

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City solicitors warn SRA that whistleblowing plan could undermine compliance officers - LEGAL FUTURES

City solicitors warn SRA that whistleblowing plan could undermine compliance officers - LEGAL FUTURES | Law firm management | Scoop.it

City solicitors have called for clarity from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) over the reporting of rule breaches and misconduct, while arguing that compliance officers should be the first port of call for whistleblowers.

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

We thought this would happen. Indeed, we've predicted these Whistleblowing problems during discussions with law firms who want an impartial third-party - who is NOT a regulator - to provide some guidance and anonymity to potential Whistleblowers.

 

One need only look at the problems with some law firm collapses to wonder whether those 'in the know' might have contacted the SRA or someone outside the business, to discuss concerns...

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Another PI firm goes into administration | The Law Gazette

Personal injury firm Calibre Solicitors has been placed into administration resulting in 14 people being made redundant.

 

The Manchester practice, which traded as Legal Gateway, went into administration on 8 February and has since closed.

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

Yet another Manchester-based law firm goes into administration, hot on the heels of Yorkshire-based practice Atteys.

 

One wonders how many firms will enter administration this year. And how many clients will suddenly become much more interested in the financial health of their advisors... And how many partners and staff are already thinking about where their future careers are heading...

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Calling All Law Firm Partners: The Future of Big Law Reception

Calling All Law Firm Partners: <em>The Future of Big Law</em> Reception | Law firm management | Scoop.it

Bruce MacEwen has written a trenchant analysis of the predicament currently facing the large law firm business model: Growth is Dead: Now What? 


In the words of Paul Weiss chair Brad Karp, the book “is an extraordinary body of work that reflects enormous insight and ought be required reading by managing partners of law firms,” as well as “a much-needed wake up call for our profession.”

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

Yet another story asserting that witout change, law firms - especially 'big' law firms - are dead in the water.

 

Is he right? Read on to find out more...

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