LexisNexis Legal & Professional has released an investigative report entitled “The Laws of Organic Growth,” which looks at how 20 of the UK’s fastest growing law firms of varying sizes have been able to grow at speed, including to what extent technology plays a part.
Two years on from the pandemic, the legal industry has proven its resilience, reaching an all-time revenue high of £41.58bn in 2021, compared to £36.78bn in 2020. The majority of firms met their 2021 end of financial year targets, with many exceeding expectations.
While law firms, the report discovers, tend to favour mergers and acquisitions to achieve growth, mergers are not without risk, particularly to the culture of a firm. As part of its research, LexisNexis spoke to senior leaders across the legal sector about the most compelling alternatives to drive growth, examining the benefits and risks that these routes present.
The playbook for growth varies by firm. Increasingly, law firms are driving growth by finding new ways to leverage and maximise their current client relationships. This includes everything from equipping lawyers to successfully nurture key client relationships, to encouraging secondments into important clients.
Successful firms are giving partners formal training in sales techniques and investing in demand generation activities such as publishing thought leadership, organising and/or attending trade events, joining industry bodies and creating bespoke content for clients. The report, which is very high level when it comes to how firms are using technology to nurture client relationships, identifies legal service packages or bundles that include ‘data room software, eSignature software, data analytics services, document management, and research and consultancy.’ It doesn’t mention client relationship management software, which should enable firms to be far more strategic about how they approach and develop client relationships.
Technology-as-a-service can mean different things but the report looks at firms such as Wiggin and Radius Law, which are bundling legal technology solutions together with traditional legal services.
Wiggin, for example, cites its Intelligent Content Protection technology and consultancy business Incopro, which was founded in 2012 by IP partner Simon Baggs to help brands and IP owners to protect their rights. Incopro joined forces with Corsearch in 2021. Wiggin’s CEO John Bannister says in the report: “As Intellectual Property is a key practice for us, this tool is useful for both our clients and business: we have the technology business that will identify whether IP has been infringed.”
It’s worth noting that Wiggin has also won recognition for its IR35 Manager tool, which is a tech/legal expertise offering for the media industry that helps businesses work out if an individual is a contractor or employee and what the tax implication is.
The report acknowledges the growth in law firm legal operations activity and quotes Rachel Broquard, service excellence partner at Eversheds Sutherland, talking about combining legal advice with support from the firm’s legal technologists, which is becoming a sticky engagement opportunity.
When it comes to the wider impact of the pandemic, interestingly, senior leaders say in the report that lockdowns across the globe have allowed them to deepen their relationships with clients thanks to technology. Peter Jackson, CEO at international commercial law firm Hill Dickinson says: “We always had clients around the world but now we are actually ‘seeing’ them more often because we don’t have to make arrangements to jump on a plane.”
Commenting on the report, Dylan Brown, the report’s editor said: “While there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to growth, it’s clear that there are some winning strategies law firms of all sizes are deploying to drive growth organically.
“Whether you choose to empower your employees with a growth mindset, utilise new technology to enhance your services, commit to building longer-lasting relationships with your clients, or take on a more flexible approach to both billing and remuneration, the key to growth seems to stem from investing in innovation.”
You can read the report here: https://www.lexisnexis.co.uk/research-and-reports/organic-growth.html