A whirlwind of a few weeks, listening to law firms in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Newcastle, Brisbane and Toowoomba on their challenges, the opportunities and how they’re going to meet both. Across these discussions over the last three weeks, there was a synonymous theme that kept on re-emerging, the changing legal industry and the importance of positioning, particularly “online.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, that at least in Australia in excess of 80% of the population are online, and those in a household of which there are children under the age of 15 years, 96% are connected. When it comes to mobile, approximately 92% of the population are there with an exponential increase of 487% of people in the last 12 months using their mobile device to conduct an online transaction. Accordingly, the online user experience has become use to a sophisticated way of dealing with service providers and hence their expectation of other relevant services online has heightened and it is driving disruption within the legal industry globally.
Despite this, there are of course the majority of firms that are slow to acquiesce that what worked yesterday, will not work today and definitely won’t work tomorrow. Here are a few of the most common impediments we’ve heard over the last few weeks from firms:
1. The Numbers
In this sense, we’re not talking about the financial capacity of the firm to meet the challenges and opportunities, but rather the rub between the partners of the firm “who get it” and the others, “who don’t.”
2. The Strategy
Jerome McCarthy’s 4P’s of marketing (price, product, place and promotion) are a great framework in thinking of innovation. What we heard a lot of over the last three weeks was firms racing to the “marketing” piece of the 4P’s without considering the other 3P’s which are primarily the drivers of the current disruption. (product, commoditised legal services (think Legal Zoom) price – fixed fee, free initial advice; place: dispersed law firms (Axiom. Keystone Law, Hive Legal etc)
3. The Cost
Always very interesting because the cost of doing nothing is exponentially higher than the cost of doing something. In this context, McKinsey’s Horizon Thinking is a great framework to start strategically framing your firm’s positioning for what’s ahead. In other words, map out the strategy in three steps, what needs to be done now that is responding to the current horizon, what does your firm need to do for years 2 – 3, and the third horizon 5 years and beyond. Accordingly, your digital strategy can then be broken down into sizeable cost allocations.
Getting on the front foot now is important! Quite apart from the three synonymous themes that emerged during discussions, was the fact that a number of older partners, who you would have suspected to be the most conservative are seeing the writing on the wall.