Cybersecurity and Law Firms

tsw-lockkey

Handling activities with large associated financial values such as property sales, or mergers and acquisitions, is making targeting law firms a highly attractive target for cyber criminals. Once hacked, law firms lose their most prestigious asset: their reputation. Clients will switch firms even if they just sense there is the potential risk of having personal data leaked.   Data is money, and even power.  It has to be protected at all costs.

It’s been suggested that law firms are not taking cybersecurity seriously enough and are not putting appropriate measures in place to avoid attack. Firewalls and antivirus systems may not be enough to ensure protection; clients are sometimes now asking firms to prove their cyber-security capabilities by requesting that periodic security audits and ‘ethical hacking’ exercises be carried out regularly to expose any weaknesses.

Law firms are the new target

Hackers have already breached the security systems of at least one major international law firm, transforming a long-predicted cyber espionage scenario into reality. In the US, two magic circle firms were among the top 48 firms targeted in order to gain sensitive information on mergers and acquisitions, highlighting the sophistication of hackers and their more bespoke approach to targeting firms in specific sectors or following high-profile business deals.

Yet it can be difficult to implement new cyber-security procedures within firms if senior partners do not adhere to them. For example, while firms may have policies barring the use of online storage services such as DropBox, some partners continue to use them (2).

Hacking is a growing threat

In 2014, 173 UK firms were investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office in reference to a number of incidents that were suspected to have breached the Data Protection Act. A total of 187 incidents were recorded – 29% related to security and 26% related to the incorrect disclosure of data (5).

Victims of this rise in attacks are both big and small corporations; however, small businesses are becoming the easiest and preferred target due to a lack of security measures in place. In fact, half of last year’s cyber-attacks in the UK were directed at businesses employing fewer than 2,500 people (1).  With the majority of law firms falling within this bracket, cyber-security measures should be taken very seriously by everyone working in a law firm.

Particularly for law firms, many of the staff are decision makers, compared with other business sectors where only Managers or the Accounts department have access to important company information.  Conversely in a law firm, lawyers and partners have access to huge amounts of highly sensitive data about their clients.

Recommendations

The Metropolitan Police offers a variety of information on how to prevent firms from being hacked. The most relevant recommendations for law firms centre around protecting access to data, across: ensuring access control so that staff only have access to the files they need rather than granting company-wide access to shared folders.  Additionally, encrypting any information stored on removable media or portable devices and considering the use of systems that eliminate the need for any files to be stored on portable devices is important for controlling how and where data is stored.

In addition to this, firms should be making sure that any device connected to organisational systems, including remote working, is vetted for security. Data transmission within and beyond the firm should be secure at all ends and access rights for staff who have left the firm should be revoked immediately.  Predictably, it’s important as we know to conduct background checks on applicants, especially those who will have access to highly sensitive data – thinking about how employees could use or export data.  Are you making it too easy to quickly download all of your client information onto a hard drive?  Or are you providing adequate controls to employees who are using their own devices to record client information, such as tablets and mobiles?

Price Waterhouse Coopers also recommend to take other specific measures.  Firstly, some clients will have specific requirements around how their data is managed by the law firm.  IT Directors at law firms need to be mindful of how these requirements are adhered to over the long term so that standards remain high.

Secondly, a global law firm needs to be able to satisfy global clients on a global basis. So, sharing information across a global network in a secure way is critical, as is ensuring that data protection policies in each region are adhered to.

Finally, understanding what data you have, and where it is located is key.  With so many easily accessible cloud storage tools and USB products available, it can be a huge task to even figure out where information is stored.  Which applications have which data, who has used a USB stick to handle client data in the past year, and is anyone using DropBox or personal Microsoft and Google accounts to share information or send files?

Apart from the previous recommendations, it is also important to consider practices such as ethical hacking exercises, which are carried out from the inside to detect a firm’s weaknesses to uncover potential opportunities for hacking. One firm which is already carrying out this practice is London media specialist practice, Schillings.  The firm has recently rebranded itself as a risk consulting and technology security practice, even promoting its services to other law firms to help with penetration testing and ethical hacking exercises to test system vulnerability (1).

C24 is holding a specialist cyber-security and social engineering course that is nationally accredited and delivered by UK specialists who train police forces in cyber security.  Each place normally costs upwards of £300 ex VAT per delegate, but C24 is offering ten IT Managers, Directors or CIOs the opportunity to attend the accredited half-day course for free.

Register your interest here.

 

 

References

(1) https://www.thelawyer.com/issues/28-october-2013/cyber-security-lawyers-are-the-weakest-link/

(2) https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/manda-hack-attack-on-48-elite-law-firms/5054524.article

(3) https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/news/stories/scams-against-solicitors-met-police-offer-advice-and-support-on-fraud-prevention/

(4) http://www.pwc.co.uk/industries/business-services/law-firms/insights/cyber-security-issues-facing-law-firms.html

(5) https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/ico-probes-173-law-firms-over-data-protection-breaches/5048260.article

 

20 Facts We Learnt From Our Blog in 2015


Facts

During 2015, I published a number of blog articles on LinkedIn and our company blog.  44 to be exact.  And within those blogs were quite a few facts, statistics and insights that we collected – so here is a round up of some of those facts to highlight the key numbers from our blog this year:

  1. C24 research found that 87% of legal firms were mainly motivated to investigate business intelligence solutions so that they could achieve better visibility of sales and business development information. (Read the blog here).
  2. Nearly 31% of law firms are at risk of financial failure in the coming year due to pressure created by competition from new volume market entrants such as Tesco, DirectLine and other insurance companies branching out into the legal market. (Read the blog here).
  3. Attorney at Work (2015) conducted a survey across legal firms and found that of the 91% of lawyers that use social media, 60% identified social media as playing a part in their marketing strategy.  (Read the blog here).
  4. PWC reports that investments in software as a service (SAAS) applications will more than double to $78bn while investments in traditional ERP deployments will decline by more than 30% to less than $15bn in the next year.  (Read the blog here).
  5. PWC predicts that cloud based SAAS ERP models are 6x less costly to implement, manage and support than traditional ERP deployments. (Read the blog here).
  6. PWC have also calculated that over a 10 year period, the total cost of ownership of a cloud-based ERP solution can be 50 to 60% less expensive than a traditional on-premise system. (Read the blog here).
  7. Complex supply chains can have up to 52 different sources of big data, generated from the supply chain alone. (Read the blog here).
  8. A report from Information Week highlighted that organisations only analyse 12% of their data, and that the challenge was dealing with the remaining 88% of data left. (Read the blog here).
  9. The average worker is said to stay at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years. (Read the blog here).
  10. LexBlog estimate that 80% of the largest law firms now publish blogs. (Read the blog here).
  11. IT Directors in the Legal sector are predominantly white, male and have held their positions for circa 20 years.  On the contrary, a typical legal new hire is young, tech savvy with 57.1% of trainee’s being female, according to a recent survey. (Read the blog here).
  12. According to RBS, 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. (Read the blog here).
  13. A founder of a CRM app called CRMNext found that the main reason that 50% of CRM application deployments failed was due to difficulty and complexity experienced by users. (Read the blog here).
  14. In 2012, Gartner reported that 80% of gamification applications would fail to meet business objectives.  However they have also predicted that 40% of Global 1000 organisations will introduce forms of gamification to boost revenue and drive better employee engagement.  Their analysts also believe that the gamification market will grow from $242 million to $2.8 billion in 2016. (Read the blog here).
  15. A survey conducted by Deloitte found that 54% of respondents would be investing in technology to improve user (customer) experience, mainly by delivering self-service portals to consumers. (Read the blog here).
  16. A 2013 study by the Aberdeen Group found that one of the key challenges to meeting sales goals was insufficient or inadequate information available. (Read the blog here).
  17. HBR found that 61% of sales reps thought that greater sales intelligence would deliver better lead quality and quantity – therefore resulting in more time spent actively selling. (Read the blog here).
  18. Companies that personalise customer information down to sales rep level (i.e. creating specific marketing and sales content at a sales rep level) have been known to achieve a 36% increase in lead conversions.  (Read the blog here).
  19. The Bank of America recently conducted research into how artificial intelligence could impact on workers across the US and found that 47% of American jobs had the potential to be automated by 2020, and that as many as 25 million finance legal job roles globally would be disrupted.  (Read the blog here).
  20. Accenture estimates that combining business intelligence with the Internet of Things could be a $500bn activity by 2020 and Gartner predicts that there will also be 25 billion IOT connected devices by 2020. (Read the blog here).

Image courtesy of Inpivic.

10 Ways for Law Firms to Use Big Data


Law firms are starting to hire analytics specialists to help them harness the valuable insights that big data can deliver for their company; primarily across the financial and business development departments.

Legal Data

Here are ten crucial areas that where firms can start utilising big data today in order to make positive changes to their business performance and results:

 

1 – Use predictive analytics to track and respond to consumer behaviour.

Whether your target client is an enterprise business or an individual, there is often a wealth of information available online to help build a picture of your customer and their associated legal needs.  Having a plan in place to track consumer behaviour, through social media, news feeds and client interactions, means you can start to predict outcomes based on historical data and learnings.  Once you have a more accurate picture of what ‘ideal’ consumer behaviour looks like, then you can start to apply that blueprint to other target customers to find prospects who fit the bill perfectly for your services.

 

2 – Make more accurate judgements on cases before they start.

Rather than relying on previous experience and intuition alone when deciding to take on a case, bringing a wider range of analytics into the fold when conducting early case assessments can ensure your chances of choosing the most successful cases are higher.  Combining existing financial data with analytics info showing trends based on customer profile or previous engagement can help to either bolster your decisions or provide a new perspective previously not considered.  Being able to do this analytics piece electronically via a business intelligence tool rather than manually reduces the time and costs associated with early case assessment work.

 

3 – Spot correlations between client behaviours to alert you to potential issues.

Apparently, vegetarians miss fewer flights than their meat-eating counterparts.  Would it then be less risky to bet on a vegetarian catching their flight than a carnivore?  Who knows… However, what we do know is that there is usually a range of behaviours that lead up to a final action taking place, and your ability to harness data to spot these trends could avert potential issues.  For instance, if every time you lose a major client there are a number of factors that tend to occur, such as; call waiting times to your teams increasing, the client repeatedly rearranging an important meeting or your company’s satisfaction survey experiencing a drop in ratings of over 10%, then early awareness of these activities could help you to prevent another major client leaving if you spot the pattern in time.

 

4 – Improving e-discovery activities.

Data analytics can help to provide more insight around e-discovery activities by not only analysing documents, but the text and metadata around those documents too.  Maybe the document itself isn’t of importance, but the number of revisions or the frequency at which the document was emailed out become important.  Without sophisticated analytics, these trends would be difficult to spot if a human were reviewing masses of electronic documentation themselves.  Sometimes the correlation between trends that leads to a discovery isn’t visible when conducting the search – the insight is only apparent after the data has been collected and layered against other data streams.

 

5 – Increase profitability across your firm.

Most firms know what their revenue position is and are fully aware of how their expense policy is being used.  However are they able to layer that information over less obvious data about how the firm operates (as a whole and at an individual level) to draw insight about profitability?  For instance, how do costs change in winter compared with summer?  Do your partners tend to take more taxis in winter but opt for walking or the tube in summer?  Do expenses jump when working with an enterprise client rather than an SMB client even though the revenue generated from each case is identical? Are you able to understand how profitability is affected by a client’s characteristics or demographics (i.e. is profitability affected if the client is based in the South or the North) from multiple perspectives?

 

6 – Increase productivity by understanding lawyer behaviour.

Understanding your clients is one thing.  But do you understand the workings of your lawyers?  Do you know which tasks lawyers spend the majority of their days performing – and how much time is spent face to face with clients?

Analytics can be a great way to obtain visibility of what tasks staff are spending their time on, and what those tasks cost based on the employee’s role versus the amount of revenue that is generated from that particular activity.  Maybe your partners spend time reviewing financial performance reports when in fact it would be cheaper to employ a reporting specialist to collate important data into one sheet to reduce time spent on the task, or that partners may be more productive when working at a client site than in your firm’s offices.

Understanding the impact of multiple different factors such as location, task type or client profile on lawyer productivity can lead to the business changing how they operate or what responsibilities each job role has, in order to make individuals more productive in their core roles.

 

7 – Know where you win customers from.

Firms sometimes have a mature CRM system or may manage their client list through spreadsheets – however as consumers interact with vendors through an omni-channel approach, it can be increasingly difficult for firms to understand how they won a client in the first place.

Analytics helps to marry up the entire customer experience journey, by combining web analytics with incoming call data with face to face meetings with email marketing etc.

Having a good awareness of how your clients find and select you helps with better targeting for future business development campaigns.

 

8 – Understand what campaigns are successful, and why and when.

Having reporting data about which marketing campaigns have been successful is fairly easy to come by.  Mailchimp offers great, free reporting on who has opened your e-newsletter and who has unsubscribed from your messages.

However, do particular campaigns perform better at different times, and are you capturing that wider information?

Are you more successful when sending out printed marketing collateral to technology companies compared with healthcare institutions?  Does email marketing resonate more with digital agencies or does social media attract them more?

By collecting as much data about who you are targeting, the business situation around the marketing campaign and the individual steps taken within the campaign, you can start to spot correlations between what factors work and what doesn’t, in order to become highly targeted and specialised in your approach.

Many law firms are now blogging and sharing insights online; but without data, how do firms know if their blogging is paying off as direct leads are unlikely to come from the blog alone but more as a result of another outbound marketing campaign in addition to reviewing the blog and website for further information.

 

9 – Use data to simplify data.

One of the main issues with data is that there is too much of it.  It’s usually in incomprehensible formats and the file types can be difficult to work with.

Many analytics tool can simplify the data from a mass (or mess) of information down to visual and simple insights that can be easily digested.  This increases the adoption of data across the organisation, with non-specialists able to understand and review data in order to base their decisions and activities.

A law firm we recently worked with reduced their management reporting file from 20 pages down to just one page, meaning that Managing Partners can now get a high level overview of the key metrics each day without filtering through reams of unrequired info.

Make it easy for your users to interact with data so that they see the value in collecting and inputting data back into the systems, to help with generating further insights.

 

10 – Make data go beyond the firm to clients.

Firms are now starting to extend data visibility out to their clients; providing real-time reporting to customers on-demand, via web portals or log-ins, without a solicitor or lawyer having to be involved in sending out updates or info to clients.

Performance against individual client KPIs is also a useful resource that could be extended out to clients, along with billing and case information.

This ability to access data when they want also has the added benefit of reducing the time clients spend getting in touch with your firm and therefore increases customer satisfaction levels.  For instance, having real-time billing information on a secure portal that the client can log into means they don’t have to call your firm up to check the billing position, reducing time on the client’s side and resources on your side.  Or if a client is awaiting info on an important decision, their portal can be updated as soon as the info is available, rather than waiting for their associated legal representative to find the time to call them and update them.

 

 

As you can see, data can be used for collating and simplifying financial and operational data, but also for supporting business generation activities and for analysing the results of marketing campaigns.  The end result is that the actions of the business become more deliberate; backed up by data and statistics rather than just experience and personal preference.

 

 

Image provided courtesy of NEC.

Is blogging the future for legal firms’ marketing strategies?


Increasingly legal firms, like many professional firms, are using the medium of blogs to communicate with new C24 Legal Hosting Bloggingclients and foster prospective customer relationships.

The law sector is particularly interesting for blogging as it is a marketing medium being employed by a fairly traditional profession whose business is based on the advice and guidance they provide, and are now offering free information online.

 

Typically the main reasons cited for law firms starting blogs are:

  • Enticing new clients through promotion of industry perspectives and knowledge
  • Distinguish firms from competitors
  • Responding to change in nature of buyers who are increasingly shopping around for their legal services

Whereas some social media platforms may not suit the field of law, such as Twitter with its 140 character limit, blogging has become a way for firms to share specialised information within their specific niches with potential clients and demonstrate their capabilities over and above competing firms.

However, as an article from Bloomberg highlighted, timing is critical.  If lawyers can be blogging on a decision the day it is released or the day a case is ruled, then they can quickly position themselves as experts and the go-to person in their field.  Being able to quickly turn news items around and into language that your clients can understand easily will mean readers look to you for info and latest developments.

But blogging is nothing new to this sector; LexBlog estimate that 80% of the largest law firms now publish blogs – a sign that blogs are becoming part of the fabric of legal marketing.  In fact, in a survey from Attorney at Work (which we cited in our report Employing Business Analytics to Achieve Better Sales Results For Your Legal Firm), 91% of lawyers that use social media, 60% identified social media as playing an important part of their marketing strategy, and platforms that allow for longer form pieces such as LinkedIn proved most popular.

Such is the popularity of blogging in the sector, that companies have now aligned themselves to providing services dedicated to helping lawyers and partners operate effective, business-generating blogs.  An example is LexBlog, a company that is dedicated to facilitating blogs for legal professionals and cites the reason for firms to now invest in their blogs is due to the view that “authentic online engagement accelerates relationships and word-of-mouth” in order to drive more business activity.

A feature on LegalProductivity.com about why lawyers blog included a few interesting snippets that give us better insight into the wider reasons, outside of pure business generation, behind the legal blogging phenomenon:

  • Helps keep lawyers abreast of developments in the industry
  • Allows bloggers to give something back to the legal community
  • Enables lawyers to organise their thinking about complex topics
  • ‘About half of my new clients find me because of my blog’

The standout quote from the article that really embodies why blogging is such a valuable activity in the legal sector particularly is,

“When you can explain a concept clearly, your own understanding of the subject matter increases exponentially”.

A simple search on Google brings up hundreds of law related blogs, and what is now interesting is that the breadth of topics is expanding.  Firms are branching out into specialist niche areas of law in addition to the operational side of the business. There are now a number of blogs dedicated to marketing and business development, specifically targeted at the legal sector, such as LegalBizDev and the Legal Marketing Blog – who have specialised in their function and sector to provide industry specific advice and news that is more up to date than any textbook could hope to be.

 

It’s an exciting space and we especially look forward to find more blogs around the legal technology space.  If anyone can recommend any then it would be appreciated.

 

Image courtesy of Andy Piper.

 

 

About C24

C24 Ltd is one of the UK’s leading privately owned specialist managed service and hosting providers, based in the Midlands, UK. Working with businesses all over the globe, the company manages, secures and delivers critical business applications to over 100 countries, with a particular focus on the legal sector. As a strategic Thomson Reuters’ partner, we deliver enterprise hosting platforms for Thomson Reuters Elite clients who are looking for more flexible solutions for their core practice management platforms.

Business Analytics and The Customer


In the past, customers used to rely on the expertise of a salesperson to help them find what they wanted in a store. Today’s customers, however, are bombarded with options and information when they look to make a purchase.

C24 know your customer

Despite the huge increase in available information, customers instead struggle to find the products that will suit them best.  Fortunately, the advances in technology, data collection, and business analytics are now making it possible for businesses to improve customer experience. With today’s technological advancement, data has become the currency of the digital economy. Many businesses are collecting their stockpiles of this currency via business analytic tools, CRM systems, and loyalty programs, among others. Customers are also more willing than ever to share what they think about a product and their experiences via social media and forums. This allows businesses to gain customer feedback on their products or services, and at the same time provides customers with more information before they make a purchase.

 

Know Your Customer

Advances in information technology allows businesses to collect data on their customers and better understand what those customers do, want and need.  Valuable data on customers for businesses can be relatively basic and easy to acquire, often via free or low cost methods. Data can include gender, age, geographical location, interests, and even online browsing activity, layered against more complex data collection resulting from interactions with your company.

Business intelligence software aggregates these different data sources to provide valuable insight into the patterns that mark the behaviour and trends of our customers. The growing availability of social, mobile, and location information also creates new data sets that businesses can mine to extract more information.

Armed with increasingly granular data, businesses can generate customized offers that point customers to the right products, at the right moment. This takes the guesswork out of sales. As a result, businesses can create marketing campaigns that can more precisely target and communicate with the right customers, determine which campaigns have the biggest impact on sales, build stronger relationships with customers, and in the end, increase market share and profit.

 

Keep Your Customer

Recent research carried out by Zendesk, a customer support company, found that customers are more likely to share their bad experiences than the good ones. Zendesk found that 33% of the surveyed customers would share their good experiences with at least five people. However, if the experiences were bad, 54% of the surveyed customers would share their experiences with more than five people. Social media becomes an easy platform for customers to share information and experiences quickly and conveniently. With just a few clicks, news can reach tens of thousands of people, and news of bad customer service tends to reach more ears than praise for good experiences. Also, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, it is 6–7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. Therefore, it is worth it for businesses to take the time to address unhappy customers and remedy the situation, and avoid any negative word of mouth exposure.

Further to these findings, research completed by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life project in 2010 found that 58% of Americans conduct online research about products and services that they are considering purchasing. In other words, customers no longer base their purchasing decisions on product price alone. In fact, as pointed out by the Customer Experience Impact Report by Harris Interactive and RightNow, 9 out of 10 consumers say that they would pay more to ensure a better customer experience. Major factors that affect their decisions include other customers’ reviews, experiences, and recommendations. With the increased ease of access to information online, consumers can shop around until they find the products and services that suit them best.

In a way, this decreases customer loyalty. Customer experience has become the benchmark for differentiating between companies and brands. Businesses that offer consumers less than idea experiences will see their customers defect to competitors.  Businesses can now spot these trends before action is taken to leave or defect to a competitor through social media monitoring and analysis.

 

Know Your Own Data

What is also increasing is that customers want access to their own data when they need it – often instantly and in real-time. Customers now expect to be able to check the status of their orders, receive updates to their services, and see where their billing is upto – and companies without the ability to generate reports in real-time will fall behind as consumers recognise they can receive a better and more informed service elsewhere.

Even though data sharing between businesses and consumers is not an entirely new concept, it has been primarily focused on customer service interactions. It hasn’t been viewed as a way for businesses to build relationships with their customers and gain insight into how to better market to them. By sharing valuable data insights with their customers, businesses can strengthen relationships and increase their product usage and the overall customer experience. For example, a car manufacturer could monitor customers’ driving behaviours and share tips on how they could conserve petrol usage or become better drivers.

 

Conclusion

Data is an unlimited resource that will continue to expand as our technology advances. As more data become available, businesses that have systematically gathered data points about their customers can make much more effective marketing and sales strategy decisions. This new level of information also allows businesses to provide a better customer experience, and differentiate themselves from the competition.

7 Reasons Why Our Legal Clients Are Choosing Managed Hosting For Their Practice Management System


More and more legal firms are choosing to deploy their core Practice Management Systems via the cloud or on managed hosting, rather than choosing the traditional route of keeping IT infrastructure onsite.  At one time, no one would have considered risking putting their central PMS out to an external hoster – but now it is becoming the norm.

As experienced hosters of a range of Practice Management Systems, what are we seeing as the main reasons firms are choosing to host their Practice Management Systems with a cloud or hosting provider?

 

1. Security

If C24 was running for government, our motto would be “Security, security, security”.  You can never be too careful when it comes to the security of your Practice Management System, as it contains key information needed for your firm to operate.  The security of many hosting providers now outstrips that of traditional in-house datacentres which is why many firms are realising that it’s not only cheaper to run their PMS system externally, it’s also more secure.  How many legal firms have a datacentre that has 24/7 security guards patrolling, highly secure perimeter fencing and strict access policies and guidelines at all times?

2. Multi-location capability

Cloud offers firms more options and flexibility when it comes to organisations who have multiple office locations.  Having servers located in house may work well for a one office firm, but if you need the same resources to be consumed by multiple branches then it can become problematic for IT teams to put in place a solution that is secure and accessible to all users.  Hosting centres can act as the central hub for firms who need everyone on the same page from an IT perspective, but don’t have their own centralised datacentre facility.

3. Choice of suppliers to match your size and scale

Cloud and hosting providers come in many different sizes, shapes and forms – from SAAS players to traditional infrastructure hosting providers.  The beauty of this means that firms have an extensive choice when deciding on the right provider for them, compared to buying hardware from a multinational corporation where the legal firm may be a small company in comparison.  Legal organisations can now choose a supplier who is similar to them in terms of size and scale, whilst leveraging the hosting provider’s own vendor and software relationships.  This works particularly well for firms who may not have a large central hub, but instead consist of a number of smaller branches working together.

4. Software is starting on the cloud, not ending up there

The benefits of cloud for Practice Management Systems is not just being realised by consumers but also by suppliers.  Many software vendors are choosing to develop their solutions straight onto cloud platforms and for some providers it is their only go-to-market strategy.  This is due to the lower entry costs and the ability to offer a more holistic solution to customers.  For legal firms, this means that apps now don’t have to be specially ported and changed to suit the cloud, they are often already optimised for hosted delivery.

5. Real partnerships are becoming more valuable as technology gets more complex

As technology solutions become ever more complex, the value of a trusted tech partner is increasing for legal firms – who require providers to act as an extension of their internal IT teams.  Rather than operating a traditional supplier-customer model for hardware, firms are recognising the benefits that partnering with a hosting provider can bring over the long term – opening them up to new technology options and considerations alongside leveraging other tech solutions across the industry.  Firms can now consume services from a ‘community’ of suppliers who collaborate to offer wider, legal sector specific solutions.

6. Interoperability and integration with other apps becoming more important

Cloud offers a level of standardisation – after all if multiple apps need to sit side by side on a platform, however proprietary the architecture, there must be an element of standardisation in place.  This means that firms can consume other applications alongside their PMS solutions, all delivered through the cloud or under one contract.  And certain hosting providers, like C24, offer firms the opportunity to outsource the entire infrastructure layer to their external hosting centres, leaving internal IT teams free to focus on business-specific activities rather than hardware support and monitoring.

7. Mobile users don’t miss out

Another feature of hosting solutions is the ability to be accessed from anywhere, usually from just a web login or via a remote desktop service.  As more employees work from home and offices become an expensive resource, firms are looking for solutions that align with their mobility strategies, and cloud is often the perfect choice.

 

Did we miss anything out?  What would make your legal firm choose cloud over in-house deployment?

 

 

Leading UK legal start-up selects C24 Ltd to deliver comprehensive hosting solution


C24 Ltd has been selected by one of the UK’s largest new start, full-service law firms, Gilson Gray LLP, to provide enterprise hosting services across their entire operations. Gilson Gray LLP are market leaders in delivering a full range of legal services to clients across the UK and are the largest new legal firm to be formed in Scotland in over 100 years.

To support such an ambitious and growing business, Gilson Gray LLP needed a comprehensive legal management system which would bring together the administration of their practice operations, financial systems, case management and client relationship systems under one umbrella application and therefore selected Thomson Reuters’ Envision solution, which is part of the Thomson Reuters Elite business management suite for the legal sector.

The new Envision platform will deliver end to end business management services to Gilson Gray LLP to support their growth aspirations in the long term.

As C24 is a trusted hosting partner of just a handful of strategic software vendors, Thomson Reuters recommended C24 Ltd to Gilson Gray LLP to deliver enterprise hosting services across the entire law firm’s operations, hosting not only the Elite platform, but also the Exchange environment and all other business applications. By selecting a hybrid hosting provider to deliver the underlying IT platform for the business, Gilson Gray LLP now have a flexible and scalable technology platform that will enable rapid growth and the ability to flex as the business expands.

C24 Ltd is a strategic hosting partner to Thomson Reuters Elite, and works hand in hand with Thomson Reuters specialists to plan, design and implement complex legal practice management hosting platforms. As a specialist applications hoster, C24 Ltd tailors infrastructure hosting solutions to meet the exact requirements of individual law firms and their practice management applications for optimised delivery.

About C24 Ltd
C24 Ltd is one of the UK’s leading privately owned specialist managed service and hosting providers. Working with businesses all over the globe, the company manages, secures and delivers critical business applications to over 100 countries. Solutions are tailored to each business and range from traditional email hosting to secure back-up and managed hosting of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions, business productivity applications and high availability disaster recovery solutions.
For further information please email: dricketts@c24.co.uk
Or visit: http://www.c24.co.uk

C24’s findings about using analytics for better sales results within the legal sector


No one can argue that the legal sector is becoming more sales focused in its approach, in a bid to stay ahead of the competition.  C24 recently conducted some research with a number of our legal contacts and clients and it revealed some interesting trends about just how crucial a topic business generation is within the legal sector.

 

We found that:C24 Infographic for Business Intelligence for Sales in Legal Firms Whitepaper

  • 87% of legal firms cited the main reason for implementing a business intelligence solution would be to have better visibility of sales and business development information.
  • However, 75% of interviewees said that multiple, legacy systems were a blocker for extracting valuable business information out of their organisation.

 

When asked about what a business intelligence tool would need to look like, 100% of all respondees agreed that:

  • Usability of the tool is key
  • User-enabled reporting is crucially important, so that all users including sales and partners can run reports themselves without having to call on IT to provide information.
  • Integration with existing Practice Management Systems would be required so that users don’t have to use multiple systems to extract data.

 

Clearly, information is becoming more important for legal firms, helping them to craft their sales strategies and target customer bases.   We have produced a simple infographic to map out the findings.   So what conclusions have we drawn from the information we collected:

  • Legal firms are now recognising that they need to have a good awareness of their client and business data in order to develop effective sales programs.
  • Information is a key enabler for making sales: it helps to direct strategy, understand what approaches are most successful, and determine how likely they are to win based on customer information.
  • Winning new customers is more important than ever and is one of the top business focus areas for legal firms today.
  • Client retention is dependent on providing information quickly to clients, in real-time and on-demand.
  • There are unprecedented levels of competition in the market today which is driving sales behaviour within legal firms.

 

C24 has published a whitepaper which goes into more detail about the role that business intelligence and analytics can play within sales activities for legal firms.  The report combines information from our own research and a range of industry sources who are also seeing a marked change within legal firms as they restructure to become more sales focused.

Using Analytics to Win Against New Competition in the Legal Sector


Traditional Law Firms quote image

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.

 

 

Source:

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]

What role does social media play in marketing for law firms?


Social Media

Legal firms are looking at new ways to attract clients and grow their market share in a bid to be more competitive and profitable in the long term.  By being more proactive with marketing, law firms can differentiate themselves from new market entrants offering generic, low-cost, transactional services rather than being pushed down on pricing.

We are seeing many of the law firms we work with investigating the merits of social media for client acquisition, here are a few facts and figures we have collected from our research on the web:

  • 91% of lawyers use social media
  • Of those, 60% say that social media plays a role in marketing
  • 39% perceived LinkedIn to be the most effective social media channel
  • However, just 4% said social media had been “very responsible” for client acquisition.

(Source: http://www.attorneyatwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2015-Social-Media-Survey-Highlights.pdf)

 

So, what can we take away from these findings?

I think it’s fair to say that the majority of firms are active on social media in some form or another, however many do not see it is a key driver in client acquisition as a sole marketing activity.  Yet as part of a cohesive marketing campaign, social media plays a crucial role.

Research from Orange Business on Hinge Marketing blog said that in 2012 there was a 663% increase in people using Twitter to ask for recommendations around professional services.  Web design was number one on the list of requested recommendations and solicitors were up there at number 2, highlighting how consumers are turning to social media to find legal resource – so the firms should be bringing their marketing engagement to them, proactively.

Furthermore 77% of professional firms (not just legal firms) are reported to generate new business leads online – and more importantly, the firms that generate on average at least 40% of their leads online are positioned to become twice as profitable as those firms that don’t.  This demonstrates that by switching to more cost-effective marketing avenues such as social media, firms can increase sales and profitability.

 

However, are legal firms capitalising on this good news?

An article published at Solicitors Journal highlighted that the top 200 firms in the UK only have 360,000 Twitter followers between them (to put it into perspective, Coca Cola has 2.7m followers, Topshop has 1.09m, and Morrisons has 127k alone).  The article highlighted how smaller firms are actually punching above their weight and gaining more traction through social media than their larger counterparts as 8 of the 10 most social-media proficient firms fall outside of the UK’s top 50.

 

So what types of social media can law firms start to use to build up their brand and lead numbers?

  • Social media sentiment analysis – before embarking on a social media campaign for your firm, be sure to have in place a system of analysing the results you get from your efforts by tracking sentiment and checking what your customers are saying about you.
  • Thought leadership – are you sharing your expertise with your potential new prospects? Using thought leadership strategies to build credibility on social media is recommended for firms within the professional sector whose reputation is based on expertise and experience.  You could try having experts within your business creating content such as whitepapers, industry perspectives or how-to content to share with your clients.
  • Twitter – Twitter is great for real-time access to a world of prospects, however Twitter alone is unlikely to win you new business.  Instead use it to build your connections, enhance your brand and get your name known by a wider audience.  Sharing tips from your own firm with industry relevant news helps to establish you as an expert in your field.
  • LinkedIn – LinkedIn is perfect for high level networking as it is dependent on the contacts you already have, and your fee earners will typically be connected with decision makers across a wide range of companies – so capitalise on their existing connections and reputation to share content and information about your firm’s services.
  • What information do you share with existing customers?  How about setting up a company newsletter with insights and perspectives on industry news that you can share with clients by email.  You can rejig and reuse existing content from your thought leadership activities to put into your newsletter.

 

The key is consistency – having an approach that is repeated regularly so new clients become familiar with your brand by seeing numerous articles, tweets, posts, shares etc.

The next step is then using analytics effectively in order to make sense of the data you collect from social media to inform and guide your next steps in marketing.

Read the full whitepaper from C24 about how to use analytics and business intelligence to improve business generation activities within your law firm.

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.attorneyatwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2015-Social-Media-Survey-Highlights.pdf

http://www.hingemarketing.com/blog/story/4-metrics-to-track-in-b2b-online-marketing

http://www.solicitorsjournal.com/news/management/marketing/small-law-firms-use-social-media-punch-above-their-weight