Lessons on Driving Operational Efficiency from BigHand’s 2023 Conference

Optimising support services and effective matter resourcing were hot topics at the BigHand Conference this year. Operational efficiency, and how best to get the right people working on the right work, was top of mind for many attendees in a difficult market for staff attrition and profitability. 

Clients have become more cost-conscious and are closely assessing the legal work they are paying for. In BigHand’s latest research of over 800 legal professionals, 74% confirmed increased pressure from clients in the last 12 months for work to be completed by the most cost-effective resource. 

At its 2023 conference, BigHand held a client session called “The Value of Legal Resource Management from a Partner’s Perspective: The panel included Sarah Day, Partner – Finance, Projects & Restructuring UK Group Head at DLA Piper, a Partner at a Top 20 Global law firm, and Hammad Akhtar, Global Head of Transaction Services at Pinsent Masons.    

The partners shared their experiences with running successful Resource Management projects and the benefits to staff satisfaction, providing increased equitable work opportunities, DEI, and profitability.

Hammad described the impetus for the resourcing project at Pinsent Masons and explained that there was recognition with the majority of partners that the way work was being allocated could be improved both from an efficiency standpoint and in providing lawyers with more opportunities to work on matters that were of interest and high value. BigHand’s technology surfaces lawyer skillsets, capacity, and available opportunities.  

Four panellists discuss operational efficiency at law firms in front of a crowded room
Hammad Akhtar, Sarah Day, Partner discuss effective resourcing from a partner's perspective.

When asked on the importance of having dedicated resource managers as well as technology, Sarah Day insisted that the project at DLA was people-led and to get it right, having the right person in place to build relationships with partners is key. She explained how the project has allowed DLA to find pockets of capacity that existed across several offices to then take on extra work and deliver more for its clients. 

On the theme on profitability, Simon also highlighted the hiring cost-savings that come alongside a successful resource management project that can help to secure partner buy-in.  

While the partners touched on resourcing matters amongst lawyers, another client panel discussed how to efficiently allocate work among support staff as well. Titled “Adapting Legal Operations for the Future: Navigating Hybrid Working, Shifting Support Structures, and Rising Attrition” discussed the back-office side of law firm operations. 

Miranda Pammenter, Director of Premises and Operations at Michelmores, Dawn Turner, Director of Workplace Services and Legal Support at Clyde & Co, Maggie Shen, Operations Manager at Woodfines Solicitors and Debbie Scott, Head of Support Services at Eversheds Sutherland all took to the stage to discuss shared challenges of running support services in a modern-day law firm. 

All panellists agreed that hybrid-working is here to stay for back-office staff and leveraging technology to manage work allocation is vital. Dawn shared her experience of using BigHand Workflow Management across the five levels of support roles available at Clyde and Co to achieve this, while also speaking about the career development this structure provides its support staff with.  

Across the day, the BigHand Conference gave law firm leaders the space to share their varying challenges in driving operational efficiencies to boost profits and to network with their peers from finance and operations roles to partners, resource management and support services. 

About BigHand Resource Management

BigHand Resource Management is a legal work allocation tool that allows law firms to identify resources, forecast utilisation, manage workloads and add structure to career development for lawyers. The solution delivers real-time visibility of team availability, improved profitability on matters and supports DEI goals and equitable allocation of work.

BigHand Resource Management