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A strategy for matter planning.
To thrive in today’s competitive legal market, law firms need to improve efficiency. Matter planning (aka matter management) has been trending over the past decade; so how deeply have law firms invested in improving their legal services to create a new norm? Alternative pricing models continue to be the response to matter planning pressures, but how far can the price discussions go before you devalue the very reason your expertise was sought by a client?
Alternative business models, technology disruption and globalisation are transforming the landscape. Clients are forcing a change in approach with transparency and value-based pricing options being paramount. Like all challenges, these lead to opportunities to act. From our experience, law firms have many opportunities to improve efficiency and offer clients the predictability they need.
An opportunity exists for legal teams to crystallise the effort expended on matters to determine which elements are grey-hair services (experience-based) to be performed by the most experienced lawyers versus what are productised services (process-driven) that can be systemised or performed by less-experienced lawyers. While this exercise has been performed by many law firms, it appears that not much change has occurred to make the step-change required for the challenges to dissipate.
There are a range of technology solutions available in the market to support matter planning, pricing and matter management. It is not hard to recognise that efficiency not only delivers the benefit of cost reductions, it also frees up the capacity for lawyers to develop innovative solutions to deliver greater value to their clients. Ultimately, this is what clients are seeking from lawyers in every engagement.
A strategy for matter management is essential to improving the delivery of legal services. To determine your strategy, a framework incorporating planning, pricing, process and transparency should be considered. We recommend that law firms undertake an assessment of their performance in these areas. In doing so, they can improve matter management and in-turn sustain profit margins. Crucial to the success of matter management is the introduction of a change management program to support the adoption of project management disciplines.
Amanda Harriss, Partner and Samantha Layne, Manager - Business Consultant