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The modern guide to law firm management 2023

| Written by Altlaw

Modern law firm management is challenging in an industry with fierce competition and ever-increasing client demands.

The legal industry has witnessed profound change over recent years, and this change shows no signs of slowing.

Effective law firm management is critical to a firm's success, and staying ahead of the curve is often crucial to staying afloat.

Throughout this blog post, we'll explore the various aspects of law firm management, from the journey your firm provides to partnership, utilising the power of technology, promoting diversity and inclusion, and adapting to changing legal trends.


The evolution of law firms

Law firms have come a long way from their humble beginnings as small, independent practices to the multinational conglomerates we see today.

The legal profession has experienced rapid change in recent years, and firms have expanded in size and scope to meet ever-growing client demands.

Effective law firm management can be the difference between a law firm simply surviving or prospering. With shifting client expectations and an evolving legal landscape, the role of law firm management has never been more critical.

Successful management involves several things, including strategic decision-making, leveraging technology and navigating ethical challenges.


The path to partnership

The traditional associate-to-partner journey involved billing countless hours to showcase productivity and effort. While these metrics are still valuable in building a robust legal skillset, there are other approaches that modern law firms can take.

Of course, there are still 'traditional' metrics important to law firms, such as developing a client base over time.

However, there are alternative career tracks that modern law firms have adopted to reshape the way their firms operate. These new methods allow lawyers to progress to partner based on factors beyond billable hours, such as contribution to firm culture, showing leadership skills or displaying innovation.

In this approach, partnership promotions are based on objective criteria and individual contributions, highlighting the desire for high-quality work rather than just the delivery of high volumes of work.

But how do law firms still meet these rising client demands while emphasising quality over quantity? Much like many modern businesses globally, leveraging technology is the best way.


Harnessing technology to boost efficiency

Efficiency has always been the cornerstone of success in the legal industry — especially with the increased requirement to handle larger caseloads and accurately comb through mountains of data.

Leveraging technology allows law firms to reduce the overhead costs associated with traditional, manual approaches to workloads, translating into direct cost savings.

Technology is essential for effective law firm management as it supplies a competitive edge. Law firms that are harmonious with modern technology can respond rapidly to changing legal requirements, offer cost-effective and efficient solutions, and thrive in a dynamic and competitive marketplace.


Leveraging AI

AI can help accelerate litigation processes while maintaining the same quality of output from your firm.

Using AI for your firm’s day-to-day can result in various benefits. These include anything from boosted efficiency, improved accuracy, cost reductions and enhanced consistency — but using AI tools safely is vital, especially in law.

First, let's look at some of the tools available that leverage AI software to impact modern law firms.


Automated document review

Regarding eDiscovery, document review is one of the most time-consuming aspects.

However, automation and technology-assisted review (TAR) can identify relevant documents and information during review in a fraction of the time.

Sentiment analysis

This tool leans on natural language processing (NLP), machine learning and AI to analyse and determine language sentiment in text or speech. 

It can configure whether sentiment is positive, negative or neutral, allowing reviewers to quickly understand the context behind what an individual is saying.

Reviewers can also combine sentiment analysis with concept clustering to group documents based on conceptual similarity rather than metadata or keywords. Using these two tools in harmony allows documents to be grouped by the language used and the sentiment behind it.


Predictive coding

Predictive coding is another TAR method used in eDiscovery and utilises machine learning algorithms to identify relevant documents.

It begins with training the system with relevant and non-relevant documents, allowing the algorithm to learn the difference between them.

Email threading

Email threading pulls together all connected documents from an email chain and allows you to locate other emails within the same thread that are coded as relevant.

Using this tool can significantly reduce the number of documents in a review queue by eliminating duplicate or irrelevant content, thus cutting the time to sort through a batch of email chains.


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Using AI safely

The AI tools above may be relevant to some of your firm's day-to-day operations, or you may have to rely on other means to optimise your processes. Still, one thing's for sure — legal professionals who leverage the power of AI must do it safely and responsibly.

Aside from training and education on the potential pitfalls of using AI in a legal capacity, firms can tap into the expertise of managed services to use these tools safely and to their full effect.

These services can help you navigate the risks associated with implementing AI into your processes, providing expertise and ongoing support to ensure the responsible and impactful use of AI technology.

Leveraging this knowledge can be hugely beneficial to the efficiency of your law firm — allowing you to save time and money while completing manual, repetitive tasks.

Specialised platforms — such as RelativityOne — offer a range of tools to level up your processes while applying critical safeguards and integrating tools into legal workflows.

Leaning on managed services and tools like RelativityOne will allow you to generate efficiencies in all corners of your firm while retaining control over the tools that produce them.


Nurturing workplace diversity and inclusion

It's essential to promote diversity and inclusion in a modern firm. Diverse teams offer a range of perspectives, enhance creativity and better serve your clientele. Fostering diverse teams can also impact the company's culture and overall morale — an important aspect of managing a successful law firm.

Identifying and addressing potential barriers to creating a diverse law firm is a good first step. Then, you'll want to implement strategies that promote diversity and inclusion across the business. These can include, but aren't limited to:

  • Implementing inclusive hiring processes, recruiting a diverse workforce from law schools and lateral hires.
  • Creating mentorship and sponsorship programmes that foster an environment in which diverse talent can thrive and advance
  • Fostering an inclusive workplace culture that values diversity, equality and inclusion


Building a client-centric firm

If your clients are happy, you're likely to have a successful firm. The pressure to meet growing client expectations is greater than ever, but it's one of the core keys to success.

When managing your firm, you should emphasise the importance of actively listening to clients and tailoring your services to meet their demands. An agile firm will be better suited to adapt to a range of clients, cases and services, opening up a bigger pool of potential clients.

Timely communication, responsiveness and expertise are wins your firm can adopt to enhance client satisfaction across the board.

Of course, saying this is easier than putting it into practice. That's where technology can — once again — lend a helping hand.

Online client portals can provide clients with convenient access to case updates and important documents, and virtual consultations can offer flexible and convenient options to broaden your firm's reach to those who can't visit you in person.

And where there's technology, there's efficiency. Efficiency is a key indicator of a successful business — and the same applies to modern law firms.

Efficiency brings faster delivery of critical tasks and the ability to take on a larger workload, thus improving your overall output. With the time you save leaning on technology, you'll have more space to focus on meeting demands and delighting your clientele.


Adapting to changing and emerging trends

Much like any other business, modern law firm management often comes down to staying ahead of the curve. Whether it's instilling remote work or collaborating with a managed service, you can explore many options to keep up with the competition.

Recent years have seen the legal landscape undergo rapid change due to the rise of legal tech startups, and their impact can't be ignored.

Cutting-edge technology has the power to disrupt traditional legal services — and is doing so. These tech startups deliver a far more efficient service due to the technology at their disposal, improving affordability and access to justice for potential clients.

When collaboration and integration happen between these startups and traditional firms, service delivery becomes faster, cheaper and more innovative. 

The main takeaway is to embrace this change, as neglecting it could be detrimental in the long run. As previously mentioned, managed services are a great place to start if you're seeking a way to implement technology into existing processes easily.

These services will help you stay ahead of the ever-changing legal landscape and delight your clients along the way.


Your first step to improving legal processes

Law firm management consists of many things, especially in the 21st century. Adaptability, technology, diversity and client-centricity are the key buzzwords to take away from this article, but how should you make your firm meet these criteria?

If you have a project on the horizon that could be improved by implementing technology, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

Thankfully, we've made this part easy for you. We've put together a page that walks you through a few questions so you can explain what's required for your project — whether it's eDiscovery support or assistance with a DSAR matter.

Once complete, you'll be supplied with an estimated price and the chance to tap into the knowledge of our expert team.
Ready to get started? Click below.