Between new players looking to provide legal services and pushback from clients over paying for routine work, law firms potentially have less to do.
In response, some firms have looked to retool their business models, adjust the roles they play for their clients and, in some instances, get out of certain businesses altogether. For many firms, staying ahead of the curve will mean recognizing these challenges and figuring out creative ways to adapt, consultants say.
"Underestimating your opposition is a really bad idea," Edge International consultant Jordan Furlong said.
Furlong recently heard a general counsel say that her job is not to produce or deliver services to her clients but to manage solutions -- a role law firms would be served well by if they chose to embrace the concept, he said.
Firms should think of themselves as the managers of solutions and recognize they will do some of the work and send some out to other providers, he said.
"Smart firms will say they still want to manage the process and sit at the client's right hand," Furlong said, adding however, that they need to realize there are some things the firm is good at and other things a legal process outsourcer may better handle.
The real battleground for law firms in the near future will be over who will serve as the quarterback, or the solutions manager, Furlong said.
Law firms in the United Kingdom seem to have been the early adopters of this model. Furlong pointed to Lovells, now Hogan Lovells since its merger with U.S.-based Hogan & Hartson. Lovells had gone out to find regional firms to do certain work at a lesser charge while Lovells would serve as the guarantor of the smaller firm's quality and liability.
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By: Gina Passarella