5 Problems Facing Law Firms Today

8 Apr 2013

It’s easy to get depressed if you read the latest headlines. ‘Business confidence hits a new low.’ ‘UK heads for triple-dip recession.’

Although these headlines may be necessarily sensationalist, the fact remains that every piece of good news about the economy is balanced by another piece of bad news. So what are the issues that are really concerning firms at moment?

1. Uncertainty
If there’s one thing that legal firms like it’s certainty. Unfortunately, certainty is one of the main things lacking in the current economic climate and as a consequence firms are focusing on the short term instead of long-term planning.

2. Globalisation and cost-cutting
Globalisation was supposed to be good news – and in some respects it is. New markets are opening up all the time, and there’s a chance to source expertise from countries where the cost-base is much lower. But there’s another side to the coin as well. Whatever service you supply, the chances are that someone, somewhere does it cheaper. As the old saying goes, people remember the quality long after they’ve forgotten the price and we would be very wary of advising anyone – especially a service business – to compete solely on price in the current global market.

3. Regulation and Red Tape
Every new Government makes a promise: ‘we’ll remove the burden of bureaucracy and set business free…’ But somehow, it never seems to work out does it? Sadly we can’t affect Government policy, but we can offer two pieces of advice: familiarise yourself with the regulations – and comply with them. Sadly, the penalties for non-compliance with the rules and regulations are getting ever more severe and they’re being ever more sharply applied.

4. Keeping up with technology
First businesses needed a website: then they needed a Facebook page: then Twitter… The list of new developments in social media that you simply have to embrace shows no sign of stopping. Unsurprisingly, firms feel under pressure to keep up with changes in technology and innovation – but the pace of change means that they are often unwilling to invest in technology for fear of finding it obsolete as soon as they’ve spent the money. There are also staffing issues – a company can either stay informed about emerging technology or master the current technology – it rarely has the resources to do both.

5. Information overload – and time
As if the flood of new technology wasn’t enough, firms also face being swamped by information. Every day there are e-mails we need to read, blogs with useful information, podcasts, articles in the media… You could very easily spend all day keeping up to date with information and never do any work. Small wonder that despite the huge number of ‘time saving’ systems, programmes and websites around, legal firms complain of having less time than ever.

In our experience, while it might be tempting to cross off a few unimportant things to make your list look more manageable, the most basic time management principles of them all still holds good. Keep all the people in your firm motivated and focused. Almost all firms are dependent on their people and very few can survive without the right people. People are critical to your success.