It may well be a fitting description for the legal industry. This is the narrative presented by attorney, author and entrepreneur, David Galbenski, in a key note presentation during the 2014 LexisNexis CounselLink Annual Customer Conference.
Since 2008 Mr. Galbenski noted, legal industry data and reports all point to the same trends. Year after year, the conclusions are similar:
- Demand for legal services remains flat
- Law firms will post modest rate increases
- The industry will see slightly positive growth, but operate below previous years
- Law firms must act more efficiently
Lingering Legal Disconnect and Creative Destruction
Citing survey research from Altman Weil, Mr. Galbenski notes there’s a consistent disconnect between what the buyers of legal services want and what the providers of legal services offer. For example, GCs generally indicate they want to see the industry change and are actively pressuring law firms to adjust service offering and business models. Law firms for the most part, resist these pressures leaving GCs to believe firms are not serious about changing.
Even so, change is happening, according to Mr. Galbenski. It’s a change he likens to the creative description of a forest fire that initially rages, then smolders then provides “fertile soil” that breeds new growth and opportunity. He assesses broadly, since 2008, corporate legal departments have returned to fertile soil. Large law he says, is still in the midst of a raging fire. The rest of the industry can be plotted along a range spanning across the spectrum depending on unique factors to every business in the market.
Path Forward: Data-Driven Legal Decisions
A bright spot for corporate legal departments driving change is the vast volumes of data – big data – such as the analysis and benchmarks provided by the LexisNexis CounselLink product. Elements of these benchmarks can be found in the Enterprise Legal Management Trends Report.
For inside counsel, data and analytics are a path for transforming “subjective discussions” about legal value into “very objective” conversations. Applying big data enables corporate legal departments to look at the same challenges with new perspective.
In concluding his presentation Mr. Galbenski deemed the defining legal trends in 2014 will focus on value. Though there is no industry-wide standard for legal value, increasingly the legal community, especially those the purchase legal services, believe this can be defined.
* * *
For more on the CounselLink user conference check back on this blog or follow the hashtag on Twitter #CounselLink. Find more from David Galbenski by following his blog, connecting on Twitter or Google+.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
How One Legal Department is Doing More with Less