The legal industry is evolving at a rapid pace. In an increasingly cost-conscious and competitive market, law firms are looking for ways to reduce their overheads, work more efficiently, and meet increasingly diverse client demands. Here is a rundown of the key trends reshaping the legal industry right now.
1. Social Networking
Social networking is crucial, for everything from law firm recruitment to marketing. In a recent survey completed by 406 legal professionals, a staggering 96% regularly use social media for their law firm. What’s more, over 70% of those respondents felt that social media has played a significant role in attracting new clients.
Social media is diverse enough to adapt to any goal, whether it’s engaging with legal professionals or simply increasing a firm’s online presence. From LinkedIn to Facebook, social media will play an increasingly important role in law firm activity going forward.
2. The Multigenerational Workforce
The modern workplace has a significant generation gap, with fresh graduates working alongside professionals with over 50 years’ experience. This generation gap presents unique problems for law firms, since partners from previous generations inevitably come into conflict with millennials and their expectations of how law firms work.
Millennials will account for 50% of the workforce by 2020, and 75% of the workforce by 2035. In the meantime, the gap presents law firms with a unique opportunity to grow. Bringing together vastly different perspectives is a great way to stimulate ingenuity and identify innovative, ground-breaking solutions. For law firms, the multigenerational workforce is a reality worth embracing.
Diversity in the legal industry offers many benefits. A diverse legal profession makes the law accessible to everyone, and it brings new, fresh perspectives to the sector. Diversity—be it social background, gender, age, or race—promotes positive change and helps law firms stay relevant in an increasingly multicultural world.
In the UK alone, nearly 50% of lawyers are female—a huge improvement from even a few years’ ago. We see similar trends in other countries where the number of women partners continues to grow.
In addition, more minority and marginalised students attend college and university and complete their legal training, law firms will only continue to diversify. Great news!
4. Legal Process Outsourcing
Also known as offshoring and LPO, legal process outsourcing is the process by which law firms outsource law-related tasks and services to other companies. Firms can outsource various services including marketing, human resources, accounting, and administrative tasks.
By outsourcing these tasks to service providers, law firms can save money, reduce their overheads, and scale back their operations while accessing global talent.
5. Virtual Law Firms
Law firms don’t need a bricks-and-mortar office anymore. Thanks to web-based technology, portable devices, and cloud services, lawyers can work anytime, anywhere. Remote working lets lawyers work more flexible hours, and law firms can reduce their overheads while offering clients competitive fee arrangements.
In the millennial age, flexible working and remote IT access will only grow in popularity. Law firms are embracing the change.
6. Alternative Billing Models
Thanks to the growing popularity of cheap alternatives to law firm services, such as self-help sites, paralegal firms, and legal document preparers, traditional law firms are under pressure to do more for less. Law firms are looking for cost-effective ways to meet the needs of their clients while keeping themselves profitable. Capped and fixed fee rates are proving popular. Value-based pricing is now possible due to outsourcing legal services and reducing expenses.
7. Globalisation and Regionalisation
Mergers and collaborations between domestic firms and their international colleagues are increasingly commonplace. These collaborations enhance a firm’s global reach and help them deliver the best possible client services. Research shows that modern lawyers should position themselves as industry authorities with international expertise to appeal to clients with increasingly complex needs.
Similarly, investors moving into territories such as Latin America and Europe want to invest in the entire region as opposed to single countries. While these investments provide great growth opportunities, there’s still compelling evidence to show that niche firms who position themselves as industry leaders perform just as well as law firms who choose to regionalise. These trends will be interesting to observe in 2019 and beyond.