With the increasing demand for legal services, small UK law firms must embrace change to stay competitive. Client expectations have increased, and they are increasingly business-savvy and knowledgeable. Over a third of respondents to the UKSMLF survey said that their client expectations have risen since last year. In addition, clients are increasingly expecting lawyers to work outside of normal office hours and to respond to queries immediately. As a result, small law firms need to adapt to stay ahead of the competition and remain profitable.
Technological advancements are changing the nature of work. AI, for instance, is automating routine tasks such as reading large volumes of documents. Chatbots are being developed for customer service and administrative tasks. Changing work cultures, as well as technological innovations, have led to a new generation of lawyers demanding flexible working hours and a more results-based evaluation system. New entrants to the legal industry have already embraced this more progressive work culture, resulting in greater productivity and economic growth.
A competitive environment is a necessity for any business, but it can also present opportunities. The legal profession is highly competitive, and the traditional rivalry between law firms is evolving into a hybrid environment. It’s vital to recognize opportunities and exploit challenges. But the first step is identifying your real competitors. For small UK law firms, this means understanding your competition, and then implementing effective strategies to exploit them.
Technology is another vital aspect of growing a successful practice management system. A good system should have a suite of reporting tools that let you manipulate data. One new technology on the horizon is Access Workspace for Legal. Access Workspace for Legal is an integrated system that provides users with space for focus, simplicity, and confidence. Using Access Workspace for Legal, firms can easily access data and manage multiple systems and processes.
Regardless of size, the current legal market is increasingly competitive. The in-office working environment is a relic of a bygone era. Although many law firms would love to see their employees back in the office, the power shift has made hybrid arrangements the preferred option. In the long run, small UK law firms should embrace these challenges as they arise and continue to innovate and grow.
A key challenge is the lack of investment in technology. New technology needs a significant investment in terms of people, time, and money. Older partners are unlikely to invest in something they will not be able to see come to fruition. Newer partners will also likely not challenge the status quo. This means that innovation agendas are often driven by the middle partners of law firms, and may not be successful. The leadership may be unaware of the importance of technology, or may simply not know how to harness it.
Innovating is one of the biggest challenges facing lawyers. While many lawyers are conservative by nature, they aren’t trained to innovate. In many ways, this is true of technology and thinking, but lawyers are changing the way they operate. Innovating is about being open to new ideas and embracing the changes that come with change. Regardless of size, new lawyers should be bold and strive to implement innovative ideas and techniques.