Last week, I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the 17th Annual Law Firm Leaders Forum in San Francisco (hosted by Thomson Reuters).
The news for law firm leaders in 2012 and looking ahead to 2013 seems pretty dismal. Both Citicorp and Wells Fargo have published reports showing a decrease in billable hours and realization for the majority of law firms in 2012. They report things won't be much better in 2013.
If you've read the blogs and content pieces we've published over the last 18 months, then you won't be surprised - we've been advocating fundamental change in how law firms operate on multiple levels - operationally, in areas of marketing and business development, and of course in the way services are delivered, priced and managed.
In our discussion at the breakfast briefing on Friday, Mr. Richard J. Mackessy, CFO of Steptoe & Johnson PLLC and I asserted that law firm survival today and tomorrow must be accomplished by evolving from the current ("old") business model to a new, sustainable model. In other words, take a breath law firm leaders - no one is telling you to throw the baby out with the bath water here. Not at all. In fact, given the sensitivity of the law firm partnership structure and resulting culture, it would be suicide to think you are going to make revolutionary changes!
Ok, so now that you are breathing a bit better, let's examine the top 3 threats to Law Firm Survival as I see them:
I actually believe that the last one (business entropy - simply put - wasted energy that is seeping out of existing processes thereby removing it from the 'energy pool' for productive work) is the key to addressing the first two. If law firms can't find the organizational energy to put into reshaping (and rethinking) their business model in the immediate future, they are facing extinction.
We are working together with our law firm customers to reinvigorate previously wasted energy (and, oh, let's not forget money) back into the organizational system so that the firm can recapitalize that energy and money as investments into their shifting business model. This is incredibly exciting stuff!
How do we do it? Through our Legal Process Management thought leadership and powerful technologies (Law Business Management System). By first transforming how firms think about work, then transforming how firms do the work, we are accomplishing incredible reductions in business entropy.
Law Firm Leaders - where is energy seeping out in your organization (wasted)? What would you do if you could get it that wasted energy back? You can and you MUST!