Sweet ’16? Cakes, deckchairs and running fast

(An edited version of this post first appeared in The Times‘s The Brief on 8 January 2016)

As 2015 slides inexorably into 2016, we can ponder what differences this might bring to the world of legal services. The sands are definitely shifting, and the foundations of ‘old law’ continue to crumble as ‘new law’ takes greater hold. Let me explore three themes: demand, supply, and independence.

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The Grand Delusion revisited

In 2012, I published a post about the ‘grand delusion’ that all is well in the land of law.  Earlier this week, an experience was shared with me that provided a vivid reminder of it.

Let me relay a story of a lady who wished to engage a firm of lawyers in December 2015.  She was enquiring on behalf of a group of people who wished to invest in freehold property, as well as set up a management company.  The value of the real estate involved would be about £3 million.  For most small and medium-sized law firms, the legal fees involved (and the prospect of continuing work) are probably not to be sniffed at. Continue reading

The Future of Buying Legal Services

Introduction

I’m not going to try here* to cover the waterfront, but rather offer a few observations and reflections on the turn of events that prompts us to be considering so seriously the process that leads to the delivery of legal advice and representation to clients.

Part of the challenge here, it seems to me, lies in the nature of the four principal factors or ‘moving parts’ that form the backdrop to procurement. These are: cost; price; value; and relationship. There are different types of legal services – ranging from highly bespoke and ‘bet-the-company’ issues to routine, standardised and commoditised offerings. And there are different types of procurement – ranging from personal engagement, through professional procurement and tender processes, to buying online with no human interaction at all.

What is clear is that not all types of procurement are appropriate to all types of services. The real issue, as I see it, lies in the potential disconnects among cost, price, value and relationship. There is an inevitable tension between short-term procurement wins and longer-term legal or relationship consequences. There are times or circumstances when cost-cutting just isn’t worth it. Continue reading