Good ideas for hard times
Less than two weeks ago and fresh into my presidency the Gazette reported that I would be using LinkedIn as a way for the Law Society to hear about members’ ideas on how to face market challenges in our sector.
Since then, I have been impressed by the ideas that have come in as well as the collaborative attitude of those who have posted those ideas. These are good ideas for hard times, hence the title of this piece and the name of this ongoing initiative.
The ideas are wide-ranging and make good business sense. The idea of this process, is to share these ideas with the profession, and also for the Law Society to take them on board in developing its policies and services.
I have been active on the site, and have contributed information about my firm which I hope may be of some value to others. In my virtual firm, fee-earners keep 70% of the fees they bring in, while the remaining 30% covers office costs, insurance, compliance, complaints, quality assurance and partners' profits. We are able to do this by cutting overheads to the bone.
Others have generously posted ideas that remind us that we need to be businesslike as well as professional. For example, someone has suggested a new approach to complaints handling to ensure lawyers in a legal practice can focus on what they are trained to do - practise law.
What has really stood out from some of the examples is evidence of success. Many of these initiatives have worked for firms. A firm posted on the LinkedIn thread that it had just had its most successful year. How did it do it? It explains that it focused efforts on its specialist market - owner-managed businesses. It returned an annual fees increase of 37%.
Another example was the post telling us that a firm had negotiated a two-year professional indemnity insurance deal from an insurer, which gave it certainty and reduced time spent renewing.
A couple of lawyers have also highlighted the benefits of making the most of marketing and media opportunities. There are some specialist legal PR firms out there who can assist in proactive media relations and marketing and may help many firms to tell the public what it is they do.
The diverse nature of the posts just show that there are ideas and initiatives out there that can make a difference, from looking at ways to reduce energy costs to launching a subscription legal service for landlords and tenants, even inter-firm collaboration or something as simple as avoiding high printer/copier contracts have the potential to make a difference for some firms.
There are many more initiatives out there that we want to here about. There is no deadline to the Good Ideas for Hard Times initiative. It is ongoing and all input is welcome. Some ideas might be developed further by the Law Society, others might be advanced by firms participating in this exercise. However, the overall aim is to make sure that even in difficult times our profession can thrive and continue to develop and embrace new ways of doing business in an increasingly challenging era.
You can get a taste of just some of the good ideas that have emerged so far.
Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, is president of the Law Society