Market Research Reaction: Law Firm Advice with Alex Trodd

Video Transcript

Market Research Reaction: Law Firm Advice with Alex Trodd

BigHand conducted an in-depth study with over 800 law firm leaders on the current state of talent and resource management.

Legal Resource Manager expert Alex Trodd gives her thoughts on what the data revels and how firms can respond.

Question 1: What statistics stood out you and why?

Alex Trodd: The one that really stood out to me was 85% of firms received greater pressure to resource matters with diversity in mind in the last 12 months. I noted that's up nearly 25% from the 61% in 2022. That's quite surprising because although we know diversity is still in the mind of our clients, what's changed in the last 12 months is the increased pressure in terms of costs and fees which seem to have overtaken, with DEI goals taken a back seat.

We're seeing a lot of firms receive requests from their clients saying, they want the lowest cost resource, or there's a lot of pressure on fees to make it better for them. So that's coming through the resource management process, and adding pressure to the resource manager.

Question 2: Have you seen how firms are responding to the challenges identified in the report?

Alex Trodd: Absolutely, I think one thing that comes to mind is a recent project that we did with a top 20 firm within their real estate team. What we found is the consultant acting in that resource manager role had a very key role in assisting with their client teams. So they had a list of top 25 clients that they really needed some assistance in making sure there was the right structure of team in place relating to seniority, skill sets, but also costs. The resource manager acted very pivotal in that role, got the structure correct across those top 25 teams which was communicated to the firm's client.

I think that really helped with their client relationship. We did hear feedback from the partners that they had felt like their relationship with their client had really strengthened through that process. So not only did we do that, but we also used BigHand resource management to store that information.

Question 3: How important is it for firms to have visibility and data on lawyers' development?

Alex Trodd: One of the major benefits of a resource manager is having someone that can actually do something about conversations that are happening internally. A lot of conversations are happening within firms, whether it be through HR, appraisal meetings, performance meetings, or just casual conversations that lawyers are having with their partners. The firms then really struggle with actually taking any action from those conversation. One of the things that we have within the technology that can really help with this is the skills matrix.

The skills matrix we help build are bespoke, whether that be based on practice areas or location. The lawyers then input data, based on experience, sector, relationship, skills.  Then the resource managers, whoever is allocating work uses that to have a more structured approach. This is to ensure people are doing work that interests them and it's suitable for their development as well. We also do have the opportunity board, which is brilliant, I absolutely love this feature.

This feature instantly provides visibility of matters that need assistance or pieces of work that need people to support on them that other lawyers may not have been aware of, due to different locations or practice areas. Both of those features in the tech get really, really good response from lawyers. people really feel like their needs and desires for their career are being listened to easily. This particularly came to mind when when hearing that that lateral hiring was increasing in that firm. 

From the exit interviews they conducted they found that out that people were leaving due to work allocation issues. E.g. Too little work and they were bored, or they were getting a little bit pigeonholed working with a certain type of partner or a certain type of matter. What we really found when we started working with them is that the resource manager was absolutely key in collecting that information, collecting that data, but also making sure that people felt listened to and actually they were receiving work that was more specific to them. I'm happy to say that their exit numbers really reduced, particularly throughout the pilot, but also since we've started working with them. So that's a really great pilot that we worked with.

Question 4: What is one piece of advice for firms working on their resource management?

Alex Trodd: We see a lot of firms that know they have an issue or know they can improve with resource management. They're hearing it from their lawyers, they're hearing the frustration from partners and they're potentially hearing it from their clients as well. So quite often we see firms panic a little bit and then go out to market hire Resource Manager, start rolling out the function without any real kind of global firms strategy. Yes, that can be successful, but it can also mean that engagement is not where it should be. We often get spoken to at that point and brought in to try and assess. What I would recommend is really think about the bigger picture at the beginning and then working backwards. I'd also say that it is really quite difficult to have a functional and successful resource management function without technology and that's because data is key, and tracking data is key. Without technology, it's very difficult to have that kind of data in front of you.

To take a deep dive into the data referenced in this video, explore BigHand’s Legal Resource Management insights here 

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.

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