“We let lawyers be lawyers”…stop saying that!
Let lawyers be lawyers is a regular refrain for anyone involved in supplying services to the legal sector. Particularly those of us who provide outsourced solutions. The long-established concept is that by giving external organisations elements of the law firm’s function, the lawyers are being freed up to focus on “what they are good at”. I’ve started to change my view on this, for a number of reasons.
Over the last few months I’ve met a lot of law firm leaders who make a nonsense of the phrase, and who were looking to outsource their cashiering function to The Cashroom. There was a businessman setting up a pure play equity release practice. There was a large established firm who had made a strategic decision based largely on the need for better compliance and efficiency. There was a team breaking away from a firm and setting up as a technology-based practice. There was a managing partner of a regional general practice looking to improve the accuracy of the data available to him.
This is just a small sample of the new enquiries we have received in recent months, but there is a growing theme. These potential customers do not want to be patted on the head and told “now you can do what you’re good at”. These people know that running a law firm these days, no matter what size and shape, means that they are running a business.
They realise the need to have a strong grasp on compliance, risk, business performance etc. Yes, the business has a product and that product is mainly legal services, but in making decisions to outsource or to buy a particular system or consulting service, these legal sector business leaders are not looking for us providers to allow lawyers to be lawyers. They have assessed their business requirements. They have an eye on cost efficiencies. They do indeed want their lawyers to be lawyering, but that’s more because they are looking to maximise their business performance.
It’s a mistake these days to assume that a senior lawyer has no business nous. Increasingly the modern senior lawyer has had to develop business leadership skills and now has real clarity when it comes to their requirements. If you’re a supplier looking to engage with these business leaders I suspect you’ll start to lose out if you don’t understand that these lawyers don’t just want to focus on the law. They want to focus on the business of law and they know just how to do it.
So will your firm move away from “let lawyers be lawyers” and understand that its just as important to focus on running the law firm as a business.