Posted by: johnocunningham | June 30, 2017

Recent Survey Issues Clarion Calls to Lawyers

Law firm leaders are concerned with but not always reacting to a wide array of competitive threats that continue to grow in the legal service sector. That is one of the big takeaways I see in the 2017 Law Firms in Transition survey by legal consulting firm Altman Weil, which lawyers would be well-advised to read.

Some of the particularly noteworthy survey findings include:

  • Law firms are changing in reaction to the shifting marketplace, but not as quickly as they should
  • 62 percent of firms say non-equity partners are not busy enough with work
  • More than half of laterals are not meeting expectations for bringing in new business
  • Firms are using contract lawyers to meet bumps in demand or to help clients control legal costs, and old-fashioned stigmas about the use of contract lawyers are nearly extinct
  • Two-thirds of firms say they are losing work to growing in-house law departments, and 19 percent report losing business to non-law firm providers (I would add that the real figure would be much higher if firms had an accurate and comprehensive way of tracking this, since alternative providers, such as legal service tech providers, are growing exponentially)
  • 39 percent of respondents say they have made significant changes in pricing strategy, while another 17 percent are considering doing so (I would note that the growth in hiring of “pricing directors” is a clear indication of this trend)
  • Only 7.5 percent of firms have started to make some use of artificial intelligence resources (a very thin percentage compared to other industries)

The total picture that emerges from the report is, in my opinion, one that should have law firm partners seriously examining the business of legal service delivery. It is critical for firms to be at the top of their game in process development and improvement, project management, technological innovation, marketing, service and awareness of their clients’ preferences and concerns.




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