Legal firms are experiencing more competition than ever before, as larger new market entrants are starting to capitalise on their scale and size to offer low cost legal services.
There is an increasing number of companies starting to offer legal services, with some supermarkets and insurance firms branching into offering legal services for consumers. This puts significant pressure on traditional, high-street firms to compete and in a recent report by RBS (2014) it was argued that traditional law firms have lost out on over 50% of income that they would normally generate from transactional services such as legal-aid support and conveyancing.
Larger, non-legal firms are able to apply their skills at operating at extreme scale and delivering services to many customers at once, to the legal sector – an industry relatively untouched by standardisation and automation. This loss of traditional services is causing firms to worry; some 31% are said to be facing an uncertain financial future in the coming year as a result of alternative business structure (ABS) firms entering the market.
So what is the difference that is putting pressure on traditional firms?
Well, the large ABS’s are used to operating within volume markets and their operations and systems are set up to cope with handling masses of transactional services. Legal firms on the other hand tend to focus on the client, their needs and the detail of each individual case. Larger ABS firms are starting automate aspects of service delivery, by giving clients self-service tools to reduce the workload on the law firm. This makes transactional service delivery more efficient and cheaper to deliver.
So how can traditional firms change their business to attack this competition head on?
- Law firms need to keep track of all of their volume customers in order to guide their sales strategies and processes. For instance, understanding where volume customers found out about your firm from and aggregating that information into tables will serve as a guide to understanding the ROI of recent marketing campaigns.
- Firms need to use the data they already have to spot trends in their market and make business changes quickly. For example, if you spot that you are seeing in a 50% increase in the number of clients you lose to online divorce services, then maybe you need to start offering a cheaper, digital version of your service to compete. Blindly deciding to do this would not make sense, you need the data to back up your decisions.
- Employ analytics to understand why you win and why you lose – what approaches work, what approaches are unsuccessful and what activities bear minimal results. Without understanding your current standing position, how can you make assumptions about what the business needs to do to generate more customers?
C24 has written a whitepaper on how legal firms are now using business analytics to inform their sales and business development activities, access the full whitepaper here.
RBS. (2014) A perspective on the legal market [Online]. Available from http://www.rbs.com/content/dam/rbs/Documents/News/2014/03/perspective-on-the-legal-market.pdf. [Accessed 11th March 2015]