Our firm is conducting a planning retreat next month. We have had retreats in past years that have focused on "touchy feely" programs for the attending partners. This year we really want to focus on a strategy and plan for the future. What do you see as primary changes and challenges ahead for law firms and lawyers?
The internet as well as advances in information technology has and will continue to be the key driver forcing change in the legal marketplace as well as other segments and our daily lives as well. Being the king of the hill or the biggest is not the strategic advantage that it once was. The internet is leveling the playing field in many industries as well as law firms. There are new opportunities and new competitors. Consider the following:
- Everything is being commoditized. More practice areas are moving down the value curve and prices are becoming more price sensitive.
- Disintermediation of traditional delivery channels. The internet provides new access to information and is eliminating the middleman. It is impacting how we shop, bank, conduct business, and pay our credit cards and taxes. It is also impacting how clients locate and select lawyers and how legal services are delivered.
- Our society is becoming - more and more - a DIY (Do it Yourself) nation.
- Lawyers competitors are just a click away whether they be legal process outsourcing providers (LPO) in India, other lawyers in your state - but further away and servicing clients remotely, legal publishers, or online form providers.
- New client opportunities for your may also be just a click away.
Challenges and Questions to Think About
- How do you deal with commoditized transactions?
- How do you tie yourself to your client in an online world?
- How do you compete with new models and approaches to the delivery of legal services?
- How do you compete with virtual law firms?
- Would you consider adding a online delivery component to your traditional brick and mortar practice?
- Should you embrace legal process outsourcing and begin forming alliances and relationships or should you wait until your clients take the initiative themselves?
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC