Merry Christmas 2012

We wish all of our customers, partners, fellow knowledge management and strategy professionals and friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for all positive response, encouragement, support and exciting assignments. We look forward to more inspiring contacts next year.

For the upcoming Christmas holiday, we would also like to give you some interesting reading to enjoy.

The Evolution of the Legal Services Market

Jordan Furlong, the well-known lawyer and strategic consultant at Edge International and Stem Legal, has written an extensive report providing his views on the state of the legal market, to help us all get a better understanding on where we are today and how to prepare for the new market dynamics.

"There's no real consensus within the legal market about just what's happening to it. We don't appear to have a collective sense of what kind of road we're traveling, where it's taking us, and at what stage of the trip we currently find ourselves. This is important, because without a shared understanding of both our journey and our destination as marketplace participants, it's difficult to talk about how to make the trip better, shorter, and more productive."

Jordan Furlong explores the five stages in the ongoing evolution of the legal market, which he has identified and their impacts on the legal profession. While some of the findings presented seem to be something of a depression tale, the report is not to be regarded as a story about lawyers' relentless decline, but rather as a story about how lawyers can drive the change and gain control over the future course of the legal market. Please read the full report for an indepth description of the five evolution stages, but briefly, the main characteristics of each stage identified by Jordan Furlong are the following:

The first stage lasted approximately up until 2008 and was the golden years for the legal profession. Legal knowledge and tools were largely inaccessible without lawyer involvement and lawyers were under no real pressure to innovate and create efficient service organisations.

The second stage is where we are right now. New options and financial pressure are increasing both insourcing and outsourcing of legal tasks by corporate law clients, multiple new providers are entering the legal industry and legal technology has become more disruptive.

The third, fourth and fifth stages give signs of the new law firm world and provide platforms for the dynamic legal market and resurgent legal profession to come. The stages are characterised by extreme efficiency, with systems and software taking on most paper, process and product work, as well as a growing amount of legal reasoning and analysis work. Mobile virtual solo firms as well as streamlined mega-firms emerge, and the legal work becomes more qualified.

"Lawyers, we need to keep in mind, really matters. I think that lawyers in the future will, in a strange way, come to appreciate that the disruptive forces currently sowing chaos in our lives actually did us a favour. By taking away work that doesn't require our expertise, they'll prevent us from punching below our weight and force us to go pick on challenges our own size. Not only that, but by breaking through the pricing floor and lowering the financial threshold for consumer access to the law, they'll do something lawyers have never been able to do: they're going to grow the legal market."

Preventive law will emerge as a viable legal service by managing risk and avoiding legal troubles for clients on a monthly retainer, new lawyer organisations will evolve using online platforms to create fluid, collaborative, job-sharing networks and innovation in legal service will greatly increase the range and depth of accessible legal work. The future goes beyond expansion, all the way to transformation in stage five, which is the first stage where lawyers are driving the change.

The full report can be downloaded here: "The Evolution of the Legal Services Market"

More recommended reading

Here are some more interesting reports, articles, blog posts, videos and books to read and get inspiration from for the forthcoming year:

"How Firms are Profiting from Delivering Better Value to Clients", by Susan Saltonstall Duncan, on how client demands formalised by the ACC Value Challenge four years ago can be turned into opportunities for more revenue for law firms.

"Financial Times Innovative Lawyers 2012 Report" points to two ways large law firms can compete for business, by Innovation in law practice and/or by Innovation in service delivery and client value. In the report FT observes that "Most of the top US law firms have similar strategies - to focus on retaining premium work and to avoid commoditisation. To achieve this, they need continually to prove that they are ideal for handling complex, high-value matters." As analysed by Ron Friedmann at Prism Legal, the innovation in business law will "determine who wins the vast middle ground of "bread and butter" legal work that lies between premium and commodity. The market remains wide open for firms with imagination and the will to win a bigger share of bread and butter work. And I expect technology and software will play a big role, in spite of its conspicuous absence from this report."

"The Changing Face of Knowledge Management", by Connie Crosby, on how KM is changing into a new and expanded role, and how it is varying from the previously defined "7 faces" of legal knowledge management.

"Tuning the Process of Researching, Marketing and Selling Legal Services", by Greg Lambert, on the importance of having a process of getting the right people, information, resources, and tools aligned within a law firm to support business development, better use of collective experiences and better understanding of a potential client's business.

"Alternative Growth Structures: A new constellation of non-merger options for expanding your law firm" by Chris Bull, on how structural changes have been ignited by a combination of economic downturn and deregulation, creating a constellation of different structures and models for providing legal services.

"Ten ways Technology is Rewiring Legal Practice", by Robert Ambrogi. This is a link to a powerpoint presentation which is some months old, but it is still very relevant and well recommended reading on how technology has changed the practice of law and what it suggests about the future of law practice.

"Tomorrow's Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future"; next year Professor Richard Susskind will follow up on his bestseller The End of Lawyers? with a new book called Tomorrow's Lawyers, aimed at young and aspiring lawyers and, as put by Richard Susskind, "older lawyers who just could not buy a book called 'The End of Lawyers?'" The new book will be published in the UK on 10 January and will most likely be the talk of the year.

As a final inspiration for next year, we would like to recommend the ultimate vision for KM from the Matrix: "KM in the movies - the ultimate KM vision"

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Helena Hallgarn and Ann Björk, Virtual Intelligence VQ

 

 

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