Building Firm-Wide Commercial Awareness: Key Insights from the BigHand Conference

Law firms are in the midst of challenging headwinds. Competition is fierce and the added pressure of wage inflation and rising costs is making it more difficult for firms to maintain profitability. At this year’s BigHand Conference, law firms of different sizes discussed how best to improve lock-up and reduce profit loss throughout the matter lifecycle by increasing financial acumen and driving a commercial culture. 

The BigHand Conference 2023 brought together leading industry professionals in roles ranging from finance and operations to partners, resource management and support services – all with similar challenges in running a modern-day firm against a difficult economic backdrop.  

Front and centre of most discussion topics was how to drive profitability – both by closely managing the matter lifecycle itself, and by promoting better commercial understanding throughout the firm.  

This was the topic that attendees at the BigHand Conference were looking for an answer to when they sat down for the highly anticipated client panel session titled “Navigating Turbulent Waters: Leveraging Technology to Safeguard Profitability.”  

The panel included Gurveer Virdi, Partner and Financial Director at Leigh Day, Magda Kosior-Molloy, Chief Operating and Financial Officer at Holman Webb and Steve Rowan, Chief Financial Officer at RPC who all gave first-hand accounts of how they have successfully improved their firm’s understanding of profitability through surfacing key financial metrics.  

Panellists smile at the front of a crowded room at the BigHand Conference
Gurveer Virdi, Magda Kosior-Molloy, and Steve Rowan discuss building a culture of commercial awareness.

The panellists discussed how clients are more cost-conscious than ever before, with attendees in the room agreeing. Partners are expected to have greater awareness of the profitability of a matter throughout the entire lifecycle. The burden of understanding how to increase revenue and keep costs low is no longer just for the finance team, but for lawyers as well. 

Gurveer explained that when Leigh Day moved to a hybrid working model, it needed to understand how working remotely was affecting time recording and looked for a way for lawyers to see the current state of their billable hours at any given time, which is what they now have in place with the BigHand BI dashboards. The firm expects its partners to be business leaders, and with the instant access to timely financial data they can empower them to make informed decisions. 

Steve agreed with the benefits of the data visibility, commenting on how it has become hard for partners at RPC to dispute financial performance when the data they are seeing is accurate and up to date. The partners have access to their own relevant data based on their role and seniority, something that Steve argued makes BigHand’s solutions so compelling.  

Magda explained how Holman Webb has now taken the financial accountability of its partners one step further by asking them to regularly present to the board on the financial performance of their work. Thanks to BigHand’s dashboards, the finance team have now been freed up from spending hours producing reports, to focus on higher business decisions and driving the firm's commercial knowledge base.  

The whole panel were in agreement that building financial awareness to ultimately improve profits begins with arming lawyers with actionable financial data. Accurate and timely access to data must be a priority if firms are to successfully extend profit responsibility from finance teams to partners and lawyers.  

About BigHand Business Intelligence

BigHand’s Legal Business Intelligence is the most advanced BI solution for law firms. It’s flexible, autonomous and source agnostic data warehouse solution, replaces manual law firm finance reporting with a real-time digital overview of your financial data.

Specifically tailored for lawyers, finance and management teams, it strips the complexity away from the mountains of information you generate. The self-service tool gives users controlled access to the appropriate legal finance data which can be quickly and easily shown through any visualisation tool of choice, including PowerBI.

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