Over the past few years, Professional Probate Applications have steadily declined from 210,448 applications in 2004 to 158,192 application in 2010. In contrast, personal applications have been on the increase, from 83,570 to 88,443 over the same period. Why is that?
This market sector is currently a battleground. Many opportunities exist, however, legal service suppliers clearly need to adapt to changes that are taking place in this arena, otherwise they will miss out. We have seen the rapid demise of some firms of late; is this due to a haemorrhage of matters to new business entrants or models….. perhaps?
So let’s get a bit Darwin about this. I believe that he said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
Are you receptive to change or does your future look bleak?
I know that it is easy to acknowledge that change is required, however, the adoption and implementation of the changes required can prove to be the greatest challenge. With so many firms stuck in the ‘business as usual’ phase, with no resource to interpret the marketplace and provide routes to solutions, change is often never achieved despite there being a willingness or admission of its’ requirement.
Just take a look at some of the most progressive and successful firms. Read some of the headlines in the various journals regarding new opportunities being created, joint ventures being implemented and national accounts being won. What makes them any different to you? Chances are, they have a dedicated resource whose sole focus is based upon business development, forging new business relationships, securing new matters and messaging to the consumer all the reasons why they are the ‘Go-To’ firm. They are tasked with future proofing and growing their businesses.
Having worked with many firms of solicitors over the years, I have approached, and even ‘been’ approached in some instances, by many different representatives from within firms; individuals from within a probate team, Private Client Partners, associate solicitors and so on. Many have been receptive to new ideas and have understood the benefits of interacting with customers differently; however, change within the firm has invariably never happened. So who is the driver of change?
Many firms do not have the luxury of a dedicated resource to secure the future of their business or implement change across departments. The majority of firms exist because of opportunities that are presented to them and not because they have managed to get creative. Also, many firms are ‘all hands on deck’, as everyone is accountable for revenue production and not many have the luxury of being able to take a step back from the coal face to shine a light down a dark tunnel to see what lies ahead.
Law Firm network provide its members with that much needed resource. We set out to interpret the market, provide solutions for sectors of the market that might not ever interact with a legal professional and represent its members to win new business to enable them to receive work from National Accounts that they might otherwise never participate in. Members can remain in a state of ‘business as usual’ while we provide the marketing and PR messaging, product solutions and access to cost saving products and services through group buying power.
Thankfully there is a belief structure amongst members. A belief that customers have a right to receive legal services in a way that they wish to receive it, deserve to be kept informed at all times, should be provided with absolute clarity regarding costs of services at the outset, that they should be asked for their feedback throughout the process to ensure that they are being looked after and their feedback should influence the way that services are provided in the future.
We also believe that not all solicitors are the same. How does a would-be customer identify the right solicitor for their needs? They can walk up and down the High Street, thumb through the yellow pages and have uncomfortable conversations with numerous firms regarding their matter and chances are, they will get the same message from them all. But who is the specialist for estate administration? Which firm administers 10 estates a year and who completes in excess of 500? Which firm has a resource capable of providing great customer service? Law Firm network, in this regard is the consumers’ champion.
It is rare that a species at the top of evolution amongst its peers is the master of everything. Many have become specialists and have exploited that skill for maximum effect. I believe that this is the direction that legal services will take. More firms will relinquish control over some areas of law to enable them to focus their efforts on specific skill sets. They will then be marketed as the ‘Local Expert’ within a ‘National Brand’ – Law Firm network.