Although the global legal services sector is growing — clients planning to increase their outside legal spend is at a five-year high in the UK — increasing competition from other firms, alternative legal service providers, and the Big Four make it difficult to stand out.
So how can firms differentiate their offerings in a more crowded field?
If you guessed that I would suggest technology, you are correct. While clients may not be inspecting your tech stack, they will notice what you are able to accomplish with it: anticipatory, personalized service; faster timelines; and top-tier staffing.
Understanding client needs
To convince clients you are the right choice for their business, it’s crucial you truly understand their needs. Doing so will enable you to provide high-quality advice so clients can see pitfalls before they happen and help cases be resolved more quickly.
But there are tech-enabled ways to help firm’s understand their client’s needs — that help lawyers anticipate and react even more efficiently. Litigation trend analysis can help firms further understand the market and help position them to win more business by targeting resources in the right areas. Using customer relationship management (CRM) tools can help firms monitor the success of existing relationships, personalize communications, capture client data, and cut down on the administrative burden associated with deadline management, and client contact. All these features will help ensure client satisfaction remains high by preventing anything from falling through the gaps. By knowing more about your clients, you’ll avoid frustrating prospects by going into conversations cold.
Innovation powers differentiation
Innovation is an area that both buyers and sellers of legal services can improve upon. In fact, it was named as one of the key areas in which there is a gap in the market, according to the Thomson Reuters Global Elite Firm Brand Index 2022.
In the report, Elizabeth Duffy, Senior Director of Global Client Services at Thomson Reuters, said: “Firms which can connect their expertise deep into clients’ industry sectors and translate the regulatory complexities of multiple jurisdictions for a client’s business will be in high demand. And for the brave, innovation remains the biggest white space for a firm that wants to create a truly differentiated brand that answers to clients’ most pressing unmet needs.”
But innovation and digital transformation isn’t just about having a proactive IT function within a firm. Used correctly, technology in itself can help boost reputations by embedding a culture of innovation, continuous learning, and operational excellence. Currently, only a portion of a lawyer's working day might go towards billable hours, but tools that automate the routine and time-consuming tasks associated with ediscovery will free up fee-earners’ time to focus on client needs and case strategy. Tools that deliver operational efficiency will also alleviate some of the issues around staff burnout by taking the load off support staff – helping firms stand out as appealing employers.
Among other benefits, ediscovery solutions help lawyers and their teams find evidence more quickly and effectively with advanced yet easy-to-use software. With intuitive search capabilities, robust data management tools, seamless ECA, streamlined productions, recognised security, and AI that can help to prioritize your review populations, a great ediscovery solution like DISCO Ediscovery will help you get to the facts of the matter faster so you can focus on substantive legal work.
Attract top talent
Moreover, there’s opportunity for firms to leverage their investments to solidify their reputations as forward-thinkers and attract talent by highlighting their tech credentials as part of recruitment packages.
When it comes to winning people over, first impressions matter. While word-of-mouth referrals still count, in our ever-connected, global world, firms must have a strong online presence to remain visible – something that goes beyond simply having a website.
One way to do this is to build thought leadership profiles. Firms that are able to successfully demonstrate their expertise and innovative practices are more likely to retain and attract clients, as well as talent. Some 88% of business executives said their perception of a brand is influenced by the thought leadership they demonstrate, according to a survey of 1,164 respondents by public relations company Edelman.
Content creation can be a two-way process. By encouraging clients to provide testimonials and leave positive reviews, you’ll demonstrate the trust and credibility of your brand as well as building an online community. And where you are using technology, consider working with your tech partners on case studies that demonstrate the innovations you’re embracing. This will help to get your name out there as a pioneering, innovative firm without investing huge amounts of time.
So far, 2023 looks to be a busy year for the legal services sector. Firms that build and sustain their global reputations now will be best placed to make the most of this opportunity, in the next year and beyond.
To stay ahead in this competitive market, take 3 minutes to read our Top 10 Tips for Building and Sustaining Global Reputations.