The Sandpiper Partners C-Suite Roundtable last week saw law firm leaders discuss the most pressing challenges and areas of focus in Legal for 2021. Sessions ranged from the workforce of the future, to lessons learned from the pandemic and managing human capital.
BigHand’s Eric Wangler and Rob Stote were panelists throughout the event sharing their insight into the key priorities for law firms moving forward. Here are their top takeaways from the event:
Eric Wangler, President for North America at BigHand:
“Firstly, I think the overarching theme was that law firm remote working is here to stay, and for people to work effectively from anywhere, legal technology must be adopted and used to its full advantage. The consensus was that 35-40% of staff will be out of the office at any given time in the future due to remote working and other work commitments including travelling, visiting clients and time in court. Office real estate and technology systems therefore will need to support this shift.
Anthony Licata, COO at Morgan Lewis summarized this point nicely when he pointed out his firm’s plans to encourage staff (non-lawyers) to work more flexibility to limit the population of people in their offices at any given time.
Adapting practices to maintain firm culture and staff wellbeing was another key area of discussion. The wellbeing of staff is of increasing focus for firms as remote working goes on and is interwoven with driving staff engagement. Several of the panel members discussed the specifics of how they are working hard to maintain a connection to their staff and working with their lawyers to help them drive engagement and improve staff wellbeing.
Firms shared concerns about bringing younger staff on board, and how to bridge the gap of physical in-person coaching, training and mentoring that is a natural part of an office environment. Flexibility within an office/ home hybrid, it was agreed, will be key to supporting working relationships and staff integration.”
Rob Stote, Director for North America at BigHand:
“Data driven decisions, from all the challenges discussed, I think this was the key to solving most of them. We discussed client relationships and the impact of the pandemic, which at first people thought would have a negative impact with attorneys not able to get in front of their clients.
The reality is, that virtual meetings have facilitated quality interactions overall. This is however, if the firm has an established relationship. Building new connections and client bonds can prove more challenging in today’s environment. Using the wealth of law firm client data to unearth the best opportunities has been key for those firms looking to grow their client base. The data is there – it’s a matter of using it.
Similarly, when we looked at law firm budgeting and economics trends, it was agreed that firms have benefitted from significant cost savings related to the pandemic, including travel, meetings, events, entertainment, office food & beverage – the list goes on. Further, the lack of travel has given partners and firm leadership more time to review and focus on maintaining healthy law firm cash flow, by improving things like recording, billing and the collections process. Providing partners with these key metrics, will not only improve their financial acumen but can help drive future growth and opportunities.
What is vital now is for firms not to lose momentum, and make sure they leverage this new found focus. By reinforcing data use, firms can encourage a more commercial culture. Building financial awareness requires a multi-pronged approach – with financial education and understanding playing a key role alongside the tactical nuts and bolts of KPI’s and managing through metrics. If there is any upside to this past year it has given Partners and Leadership the time to examine and reflect on the wealth of financial and operation data they have at their disposal.”