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Thursday, 31 January 2013

One Direction for Lawyers!

So which firms can now look to the future with some optimism?

It is interesting that The Lawyer Magazine has commented on the problems facing Cobbetts with this –

“There will be plenty of time to pick over what went wrong for Cobbetts exactly, but what is already clear is that this is another clear sign that you can't stay still in this market without falling behind.”

This echoes my own thoughts.

But we also need to be clear about what ‘can't stay still’ actually means. I have talked before about the need to keep up with technology, social media etc, and that is all extremely important. But firms who realise that they can’t stay still need to have some idea where they are going! One of my favourite Monty Python Sketches is the One Hundred Metres for people with no sense of direction. The athletes line up with real focus and dedication. When the gun goes sounds, they all head off in different directions.

Those law firms which have a clear direction are those which will come out this the strongest. So one obvious question will be – what are best at? In what areas of work do we meet the needs of our clients? So if a firm is particularly strong in say Clinical Negligence or Employment Law, then they should concentrate their efforts there and do all that they can to build on that strength. Any obstacles need to be faced and overcome. We all know that the Government is making it more difficult to pursue compensation claims, so this mean might mean a change in the way we work. Some tasks might need to be outsourced and some tasks that we send out to other agencies might be more effectively done in-house. Changes can be painful and difficult but the status quo is not an option.

The arrival and growth of Alternative Business Structures can be an opportunity as well as a threat here. Many firms have relied on buying personal injury cases from Claims Management Companies. That model is certainly not going to continue in its current form once the payment of such fees is banned in a few months time. Those firms who just stand still and wait – are likely to end up like a rabbit caught in headlights! Those who look to develop new partnerships and marketing initiatives will not only survive but thrive.

So firms do indeed need to move but also need to head in a clear direction . One Direction may be a crap boy band but there is something in the name!!

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