Note: This post was contributed by David J. Galbenski.
As law firms are challenged to do more with less, innovative thinking wins the day and beats the competition.
When statistics show momentum slowing in revenue and profit growth for law firms, it’s time to strategize and take risks – something familiar to most business owners, but unusual for firms. If they don’t innovate, they’ll end up falling behind.
Here are six ways in which law firms, corporate legal departments, and the legal services industry at large can embrace change and promote innovative thinking in 2016.
The Cubs have done something unexpected this year by dispatching the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS before falling to the New York Mets in the NLCS. They’re a young team, and they’ve got a new manager, Joe Maddon, who brought out the best in them and took the team farther than they’ve been in more than a decade. Strong leadership does that. It’s something law firms and corporate legal departments alike can benefit from if they welcome it.
Law firms can no longer operate in a vacuum. Their corporate clients expect them to intimately understand their business models. They expect them to provide exemplary client service. And, they expect value for the money they spend.
All of that requires firms to change their mindsets. As law firms become a business more like other businesses, it’s time for their leaders to think more like entrepreneurs.
There’s no better way for law firm leadership to gain its bearings than through analysis of statistics, surveys, indices, and trends reports. Find out what happened in the past year and join the hypothesizing that occurs to figure out why those events occurred. Then, take a look at what others are forecasting for the future.
There’s a glut of information available on the ups, downs, and in-betweens of the legal services industry. These statistics can help law firms create a sound strategy for the coming year.
Yes, there’s a lot of data that’s already out there. Yes, that data is important and can illuminate hidden facets of the legal services industry. But, because much of that data is self-reported, it can be subject to favorable interpretation.
What if legal services reached a new degree of sophistication by reporting data within a standard framework? It could revolutionize the way we see the industry.
Corporate legal teams have become increasingly savvy in recent years. They know that it’s not just about selecting a single firm based on reputation. Instead, you get better results by working with more than one law firm and non-law firm vendors.
Merger mania has hit the legal services industry. It seems that with some large firms that it’s a knee-jerk response to changes: Well, they think, we’ll just get bigger.
But, some smaller firms have got the right idea when it comes to mergers. They’re expanding their geographical footprint or adding depth in a practice area, finding ways to give clients what they want and need.
Innovation is happening everywhere within the legal services industry right now. Let’s keep the ball rolling in 2016 and see what new and interesting ideas take hold.
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David J. Galbenski, Esq. is EVP of Strategic Initiatives with Lumen Legal. He is the author of UNBOUND: How Entrepreneurship is Dramatically Transforming Legal Services Today and the keynote speaker at the 2014 LexisNexis® CounselLink® Customer Conference. Mr. Galbenski can be found on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter: @davegalbenski.
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