There is no doubt that Conflicts of Interest is a crucial risk management concern for law firms. Ensuring appropriate parties are checked for conflicts, that the conflicts clearance process is audited and associated concerns (such as ethical walls) are evaluated and managed are all needed loss prevention aspects in a law firm.
That said, conflicts processes are only part of, not synonymous with, the holistic New Business Intake process. In the old days, law firms bought a conflicts of interest package and then wrapped rudimentary New Business Intake procedures around the checking and clearing of conflicts.
Sadly, some firms are stuck in this old way of thinking - that somehow New Business Intake and conflicts processes are essentially equivalent - or at minimum that conflicts checking and clearing is the central concern of New Business Intake. Neither is correct in 2013 - but as a result of this thinking, we see firms falling into the trap of making the same choices in 2013 that were made in the last 'era' (circa 1999-2002). The difference today is - making these faulty assumptions costs firms MILLIONS of dollars (no exaggeration)....
The facts in 2013 and the future are as follows:
1. The needs (and value) of a properly implemented and evolvable New Business Intake process are substantially cross-functional and NOT centrally focused on conflicts. In fact, financial and marketing considerations are far and away the most central themes of a transformed New Business Intake process. These financial considerations also include multiple risk management considerations (LOSS PREVENTION), which necessarily include, but are by no means limited to, conflicts of interest.
2. New Business Intake is a process that will be forever evolving - primarily in areas that are not directly conflicts-related.
3. New Business Intake is one of DOZENS of client/matter related processes. Cross-functional considerations continue across these additonal related processes - and again, are not conflicts-central.
Unfortunately, the same vendors that persuaded firms to the old dead-end approaches are still at it - leading unsuspecting firms into the same rabbit holes they did before. Why? Well, because they have a new conflicts system to replace the old conflicts system, of course.
But your firm doesn't have to fall into the same old traps. New Business Intake and the other dozens of business processes that occur for your clients/matters are decidedly more about making money than checking conflicts. And we haven't even started to talk about the other entities we need to manage (legal projects (matter delivery); employees; vendors; contracts...).
Recognizing that all business processes at your firm must be considered from a cross-functional perspective is the first step towards moving towards the required new sustainable business model for law firms.
Don't let the fact that a vendor has pulled support for your conflicts system because they want to sell you a new one cause you to make a decision with long-term detrimental financial consequences.
There is a new and better way...
The old ways simply won't cut it - don't let your firm go down the same rabbit holes. Elegrity helps law firms think and operate in accordance with the new world, not the old.
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In future blogs, I'll expose additional rabbit holes that you and your firm can avoid.