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Best Practice: Is your firm ready for the new competitive landscape?

Asked and Answered By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. At a recent partner meeting we discussed the current economy and what changes we need to be thinking about both now and when we come out of the recession. What are your thoughts? A. As law firms emerge from the current recession many will face many new business realities and be forced to consider whether existing business models are still appropriate for the future. Legal process outsourcing (LPO), off-shoring, virtual offices, alternative billing, etc. We believe that the recession may accelerate the pace by which firms reevaluate existing processes and consider new business models. Ten years ago (1999) the ABA hosted the "Seize the Future" conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Click here for my coverage of the event. The conference predicted massive change fueled by the Internet. Many of these changes we have already witnessed and experienced - others are yet to come - possibly in the near future. Richard Susskind's popular book The End of Lawyers: Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services paints an interesting future. As we emerge from the recession pressures will exist that may accelerate some of the other changes that have been predicted. Here are some changes that some firms are already implementing:
  • Outsourcing back-office support functions such as accounts receivable management and collections, leased employees (PEO), billing and accounting, IT support, payroll, facilities management, copying and duplicating, etc.
  • Outsourcing legal services to contract attorneys and paralegals and on-shore and off-shore legal process outsourcing (LPO) providers
  • Unbundled legal services by clients with segments of work assigned to in-house counsel, outside counsel, and on-shore and off-shore legal process vendors
  • Partnering by U.S. law firms with on-shore and off-shore legal process vendors
  • Internet service delivery models
  • Flat fee billing arrangements by large law firms with large major corporate clients
  • Success fees and risk sharing with clients
  • Virtual employees
Here are a few examples: The key ingredient is to not get stuck in the past. Incumbency and past success have never been worth less. Ask General Motors. John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC,  is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA General ListServ, which the John and other committee members reviews, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line Newsletters. John may be contacted via e-mail at jolmstead@olmsteadassoc.com.

Posted on Jan 13, 2010 by Chris Bonjean | Comments (0)
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