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Oct 06, 2020

A Legal Perspective: Emerging From Crisis and Respones to Recovery

Access to sophisticated, cutting edge technology will be beneficial during challenging economic times

Our 'A Legal Perspective: Emering from Crisis and Responses to Recovery' webinar is available to watch on-demand here.

Key insights 

The health pandemic has wreaked havoc in economies around the world. There will be many legal professionals who are concerned about the state of their sector in the post COVID-19 period. While there will be some growth, it will be slow, and it will take many months before it returns to pre-covid levels. For many legal firms, the risk of business failure has become very real, especially for smaller firms. 

Although the economic recovery in the Middle East and North Africa may differ from the UK, the legal sector will share similar concerns and challenges. Some steps can be taken to increase the survival rate for all legal firms, which may be more critical for the smaller firm that has less of a buffer against market shocks. 

The legal sector in MENA will experience slow growth post COVID

After many months of lockdowns and restrictions, some regions and countries are cautiously opening their economies. While some sectors will remain constrained for some time, others, including the legal industry, have been able to begin scaling up their operations. However, it will take time for many organizations to return to a productive level that can be considered normal, and this may have a knock-on effect on employment across the region. It is estimated that one and a half million expatriates across the region are planning to return to their home countries to survive the economic crash. 

For the legal sector, the top 10% of firms will be relatively protected from the financial fallout. Not only do they have the financial resources to survive a falling economy, but they have also invested in technology. That access to sophisticated, cutting edge technology will be incredibly beneficial during challenging economic times

Survival will depend on the ability to adapt to the new norm

Past experiences have shown that while many organizations collapse in times of great crisis, other organizations not only survive but do well. The legal firms that endure this period will have the agility to transform and to adapt to a 'new normal'. Old rules of operating are likely to fall away quickly, and if senior management resists change, especially technological change, it is unlikely that the company will survive. It will be a case of adapt or fail, and those with a lack of agility will be at a disadvantage. 

Moving from an organization-centric to a client-centric model 

Instead of focusing on their needs, specifically their billable hours, the law firms that survive will be those that focus on their customers’ needs. These firms will be led by lawyers who ask the right questions, such as who are my customers, what are their needs, what resources do we have and what resources do we need to sub-contract to meet those needs. To stay in operation, law firms will have to move to a client-centric model.

Legal firms will also need to ensure that they have the expertise that they need to survive, a proactive firm will have already mapped out and understood their team dynamics and strengths to know resources they have to hand and where there are gaps.  

It will require more empathy and the creation of an appropriate corporate culture, a culture of caring. Clients need to feel that they are getting value for money and that their needs are met. 

There is an opportunity for smaller, more agile law firms to thrive in these circumstances. They tend to have less significant overhead expenses and are therefore have a capacity to respond quickly to a changing environment. 

Ability to invest in appropriate technology will be key 

Consumers have quickly adapted to technology across many spheres, and this has raised their expectations of their service providers. Large law firms have the resources and ability to invest in technology and to stay up to date with trends, and this is an advantage for them during this crisis. 

Companies led by lawyers who are unable to recognize the need to use technology to maximize their resources will struggle to progress. Technology needs to be kept current and matched to the needs of their clients, and this may not be easy for every law firm. Another challenge to be navigated is knowing which technology to invest in, and this will require specialist advice.  

Legal education will change 

The law firm of the future will require a different set of skills to those traditionally taught in a law program. Legal knowledge will no longer be enough; practitioners will be required to solve a range of issues that may go beyond legal. An entrepreneurial approach and expertise in legal technology will be advantageous for the lawyer of the future. 

Some tertiary institutions have understood this need and are offering alternative programs. For the lawyer of the future, continual learning will be key because brand recognition will no longer sit with the law firm, it will rest with the individual. Skills and collaboration will become the focus in the future, not the law firm, and lawyers will have to invest in education to ensure that their skill sets remain current and that their brand stays prominent.

Navigate your firms growth in a post COVID era

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