Why Networks Are an Untapped Resource in Legal?
Sharing economy and digital transformation have encouraged lawyers to share experiences between departments
Covid-19 brought in an epochal shift to remote working and forced organisations to reprioritise plans simultaneously. For many, this meant focusing heavily on digital transformation. In addition to adopting digital ways of working there are other changes legal organisations need to make to remain viable - industry experts also point out the legal business model is a challenge. Let’s explore this further in terms of the following; is the legal business model customer friendly? Does it encourage transparency and is it designed to identify client needs.
Is the legal business model customer friendly? [*]
Cash Client satisfaction is king: Business models and pricing have long been debated in the field. Some maintain the death of the billable hour will inspire greater value for clients in legal services, others argue the entire LLP business model needs a revamp.
Creating an outstanding customer experience is a super power not many companies have, according to TEK Systems 84% of clients say their experience is as important as the services an organisation provides. Beyond legal, a growing number of companies now rely on NPS (net promoter score) to measure the quality of service and value they provide. Tracking if clients are likely to recommend your services is powerful in this digital age. Prioritising customer experience helps build technology enabled services that better reflect the needs of the market.
The legal business model is lawyer centric, it does little to encourage cross departmental collaboration. Although organisations are investing in technology for business improvement, adoption of technology varies according to teams. This limits opportunities for different experts (who are not lawyers) to share insights and inspire better ways of doing things i.e collective intelligence. While collective intelligence allows teams to leverage insights from internal networks silos can be detrimental to workplace culture (more than organisations believe). Greater collaboration internally will allow legal expertise to blend with technical effort seamlessly and inform practical improvements.
The customer community is not what it used to be: The impact of the sharing economy. 2021 ushered in new wave of interest in digital currencies, a sign of an increasing shift towards globalisation perhaps? Crypto-currency enthusiasts maintain that the idea of physical cash is fast becoming redundant, this message is steadily gaining more momentum because of an increasing need for transparency and sharing. Clients are choosing providers they trust, influencer culture arugably exists because of this growing need for authenticity. This eventually translates to how lawyers engage meaningfully in a world where expertise no longer reigns supreme - they need to share more. At an individual level this also means lawyers have to think beyond opportunities in their domestic markets. They need to build networks with other subject matter experts in other regions. Technology providers are ahead of the curve in this respect, there is a lot of consolidation in the market to do exactly that – to give companies a chunk of the global (proverbial) pie.
This is an area where the legal market should take notes from technology companies. Technology companies invest heavily in customer communities. It is harder to translate this notion to business models in legal however as law becomes more commoditized, digital customer communities can help define what clients need. Once again, digital communities rely on sharing, which is historically not what legal teams are used to, however these communities allow open conversations that convey client interests and inspire better problem-solving.
To conclude, customer centricity is key to digital transformation and the legal business model needs to adjust to this. In order to build a realistic picture of how solutions can better serve client needs, organisations need to leverage knowledge from internal networks and build external customer networks which help define why and how they are uniquely positioned to provide value.
*Cohen M, (2018). New Business Models- Not Technology- Will Transform the Legal Industry [Online] Available here at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/markcohen1/2018/11/08/new-business-models-not-technology-will-transform-the-legal-industry/?sh=2060ac4318cc [Accessed 6th April 2021]