The legal profession has undergone radical change in recent years, both within the UK and internationally, as client needs have been transformed by a variety of drivers, including new technology, a changing regulatory environment, dynamic geo-political relations, employment demographics, and even environmental factors.
A strategy for managing change
Law firms have generally been very quick to respond to changes, recognising shifts in skills requirements, and steadily evolving to maintain a healthy talent pool that enables them to provide a good balance of service and value. Yet the pace of change is accelerating, and if firms are to stay ahead of the curve, they must develop clear strategies for managing change, so that they can continue to develop talent that supports their clients’ needs.
Challenging the status quo
In the past, any law firm’s decision to stick to their traditional markets has been viewed as a low-risk strategy. Yet in today’s rapidly changing commercial climate, this begins to look rather like an investment strategy that confines itself to specific sectors. And a lack of diversification can have serious consequences when markets don’t behave as expected. So whilst many firms have been able to reap the benefits of their traditional specialisms, a refusal to explore other markets increasingly appears a high-risk strategy.
To meet the challenge of an increasingly uncertain future, firms will need to adopt greater flexibility in their working practices. They must diversify into adjacent markets where they already have traction, or recruit new talent that gives them the capability to make aggressive moves into new markets. Rapid technological change is creating demand for a new generation of services, as developments in many sectors are outstripping the policy and legal frameworks designed to regulate them. And this presents both challenges and opportunities for legal firms.
Technology changing the way we work
New technology is acting as a disruptive influence on many traditional markets and working practices. It is changing the way we work, the way commerce works, the way the world works. Technology is transforming the way businesses and their customers interact, the way business is transacted, and the way clients are serviced. And the march of globalisation and the emergence of supranational corporations paves the way for ever greater change.
Recruiting talent from diverse sectors
To meet these challenges, law firms must develop existing talent and recruit new people with experience in diverse sectors – fresh talent with the technical, financial and political expertise to devise new services and new operating models that match clients’ requirements. This means attracting high-calibre professionals from non-traditional backgrounds – people who can provide a deeper understanding of diverse sectors and share their knowledge and insights to support the growth of their own firms and add greater value for their clients.
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