Friday, September 21, 2012

The Steeple Chase Race for Law Firms

We have been talking about the ABS and its effects on to the legal industry at large for some time now.  However, the actual race full of obstacles which the law firms today need to run at is less talked about.  What to do, how to do and when to do is the top thought of the day.

The most affected from this are the private client practice law firms.  This means that law firms dealing with wills & estates, conveyancing, immigration, Family laws etc get to feel the brunt of this maximum.
We need to understand the ABS has three sides – the good, bad and the ugly. 

The Good – The Law Society of England & Wales has always been in favor of promoting open market, choice and competition in the legal market and the alternative business structure just makes that more stronger as the ABS comes as one of the most suited models for the future legal services market.  Let’s also acknowledge the fact that the budding lawyers will have more choices in terms of their careers.

The Bad – the ownership of legal services, which was so far restricted to lawyers, has now changed and now it’s open to one and all. 

The Ugly – the law firms which were anyways surviving the ever existing competition successfully are managing their ways out with this radical change and will continue to do so.  It is the smaller and mid size firms who are feeling the impact of this change.  While one cannot replace a solicitor’s advice to that off a non-solicitor, the commoditised legal services like conveyancing, wills & estates etc can be easily and are being taken over by the new Tesco’s and ASDAs in town.

The downside of ABSs creating new opportunities in to the market in terms of jobs is that non lawyers will also enjoy the same or similar benefits as a lawyer in some cases.

The Management of a law firms now needs to be on their toes to do some effective business planning. Solicitors need to wear many hats at the same time in order to beat this change.  In no way can we say that the traditional ways of practice are bad but we surely need to make modifications in the ways of practice looking in to the changing trends. It is very truly said, that "If you are not riding the waves of change – you’ll find yourself beneath them."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Legal Transcription – undiscovered challenges

A service like legal transcription (legal typing) attracts the skills attached within.  I wonder sometimes on how technology has helped us with quick solutions to remain competitive in this economic era. Gone are the days when secretaries used to take down dictations in shorthand and then type them out.  It has now become easier to just talk in to your smartphones or Dictaphones and dictate your notes, letters, and memo etc. and have that typed out by a secretary. But what happens in the case when you are taking a walk after your dinner; outside your house and you remember an urgent letter to be sent out first thing in the morning, what do you do in such a case? There is no option of calling the secretary, and the last resort is to get it typed by you.  Another, easiest answer here would be that you dictate the letter over your phone and send it to a vendor who is 4.5 hours to 11 hours ahead your time zone and get it typed at ease.  At least you can have a peaceful sleep at night and next morning before you reach your office, the letter would already be waiting for you in your mailbox.
Not only this, we must not deny the benefits attached to this service. Time taken to type number of pages can be best utilized in other core areas. With the advancement of technology, recorded dictation can be securely uploaded to the vendor’s website and the typed version can easily be received in your mailbox. The other option available is to upload the dictations on a platform which is a direct connection between the client and vendor such as working on FTP or client server. Vendors can give 4 to 24 hr TAT(turnaround time) which means at some urgent instances, even if you send any assignment by the end of your day, you can still receive it even before the beginning of next day.
There are still some undiscovered challenges lawyers feel whenever they think of getting their work done from someone who is out of sight. But I sincerely need to be convinced on the reasons given by them. I could summarize them as below:
  • Your company is unable to provide reference (Even though it is a valid question but a genuine reason of not showing the name of the client is signing of NDA with the existing client. The question of quality can be judged once a trial is sent to vendors).

  •  Next possible apprehension can be that, you are a small company and it is tough to build trust in you. (No one is big in the beginning. You have to take that first step in order to climb the ladder of success and be amongst the top. But without getting a chance to show your skills, you cannot move even a single step ahead. The initial trust is must). 

  • One of the prominent question which is a very vital concern for all is how their data will be secured.( Initial trust and maintaining supreme confidentiality are two of the chief pillars on which all the vendors endeavor to build on their clientele. Signing of the customer confidentiality agreement is another example of ensuring that vendor is making itself liable in case of any leakage of client’s information).

Are all above factors not enough to reach up to a level where one would be ready to try these untested waters and get ready to plunge in the ocean of New World? I strongly believe that anything which is a helping hand on the path of success must be taken into consideration.

Draft n Craft

Draft n Craft has developed a dedicated department for this herculean task and to meet the deadlines set by clients. Our transcription wing consists of personnel coming from the width and length of the nation. This is the only part of the office which works around the clock 365 days a year. Draft n Craft provides legal transcription services to law firms, solicitors and other legal organizations worldwide. Our experienced legal transcriptionists and quality analysts provide accurate and high quality support to ensure you can concentrate on core legal issues of your firm.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Does a lawyer need to be a manager also?

As soon as I hear the word ‘Lawyer’ an image of a gentleman in black coat with his briefcase or files in hand comes to my mind. In earlier days, when there was no trend of law firms, lawyers used to practice on their own. They were the experts in some areas of law and used to advise their clients on legal issues, represent them in courts and update themselves about the changes in the law like a doctor updates himself about the new medicines and medical researches. The United States established the model of law firms in the sense of a business entity consisting of more than one lawyer. The first law firm with two or more lawyers had come into view just before the American Civil War and this practice had given birth to a manager inside a lawyer.

Lawyer always have a vital role to play in every management be it a law firm or corporation or any other organization. Leading fortune 500 companies have lawyers in their management teams who give their inputs in laying down the strategies. They advise company’s board of directors on their responsibilities in an effort to keep the best interests of the company and shareholders at the forefront. On the other hand, when it comes to law firms, managing partners play an important role in the management. They are leading the business of law firms where hundreds of people are working. They set the example for other leaders at different levels within the firm and always keep an eye on the functioning of all the departments.

Management is required in every business and law firms being business entities are not the exceptions. Unlike lawyer, a manager’s role in a law firm is more defined and focused. When a lawyer is in the management team he does multi tasking and performs roles of a lawyer as well as of a manager whereas an office manager does not have to do the work which a lawyer is supposed to do. Irrespective of the firm size, managers have to deal with three major categories of administration i) personnel; ii) financial; and facilities. Though delegation of authority differs with the size of the firm. Usually lawyers are skeptical of non lawyers trying to tell them how to do their work and non lawyer managers often do not get that respect what a lawyer manager may receive from his colleague in the firm. This also raises a need of lawyers to become managers for the better coordination among the employees.

About Draft n Craft

Established in 2008, Draft n Craft is a cut to the chase Legal Process Outsourcing Company with strong and dedicated work force of professionals. Having established a brilliant track record, Draft n Craft has been partners of growth to many of the law firms and corporations in the UK and US. Draft n Craft’s supreme focus has always been on helping lawyers deliver the best value to their clients by working on process and technology optimization, and by devising ways to rationalize client’s operational spending. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Curious Case of Lawyering…

It’s a common nature of human which allows them to look for possibilities and opportunities to succeed in life. Every day people come up with new ideas and new approaches to implement in their day-to-day working and aim to accomplish their dreams. Lawyers too are not untouched with this very thought even though they may be doing quite good in their profession. Sitting back and giving a quick thought on what really made them choose the legal profession and how they want or wanted to see themselves after five or ten years, I think is a good way to start. Now a day, the legal industry is coming up with new practice areas and many other managerial levels and consulting opportunities. We can see the cases where solo practitioners are wearing the shoes of entrepreneurs and establishing their own boutique law firms and giving tough times to the established law firms. It is vital for lawyers to know ‘What’,Why’, ‘How’, they want to achieve the best, with all other crucial issues they face in their day-to-day life.

A lawyer with a briefcase can steal more than a thousand men with guns. – Mario Puzo

Why should they look for options to improve their working style?

What is in store for them if they do?

I am sure most of my lawyer friends who are reading this blog will agree that
‘WHY’ indeed needs to be addressed before any other questions. As lawyers today want to explore about their value added assets with the skills of good lawyering and have vast knowledge and experience. When every now and than a new regulation and updated technology is coming into existence. Lawyers too are eager to update themselves and walk effortlessly with the new age of lawyering. Now, with a new thinking and approach lawyers are changing their working style accordingly and using the modern age tools to perform their best. Things have changed from desktop to palmtop, basic phone to smart phones, human efforts to the use of internet and different software, local media to social media, physical office to virtual office and many more. But questions which arise here are: 

Lawyers are now looking for every possible option and using every bit of information and support to do best for better Client Satisfaction and gain their client’s trust and maintain a healthy working relation with them. Every possible change and improvement a lawyer is implementing is towards bringing a smile to the faces of his/her clients and keeping their trust alive, protect the non guilty, and uphold the country and state law.

This look good, now the next step ‘HOW’. Let me tell you a small incident:

I was astonished to see a group of kids all dressed and equipped in sport gears all set to enter in a ground and kick the football as hard as they could. I was amazed, not because it was something unusual but it was rare to see a group of children, (ten to twelve years) cheering and walking on the lane with enthusiasm. Each one was talking about performing their best and to beat their opponent by large margins. I could not resist myself and went to give them my best wishes. One of the players excitedly informed me that they are going to play against junior high school boys and they are confident that they will win this game. As they have monitored every action of their opponent closely and have done hard work to plan a right strategy to face any difficult situation. With their optimistic approach, well planned strategies and key points, I was convinced that they will win the match. I wondered how easy and important is to learn from our day to day life and how much one can learn from these small kids. My mind got blocked between two words ‘organized vs unorganized’, optimist vs pessimist, ‘performing vs result’, ‘creeping vs to face’. In today’s competitive work culture whenever we think of performance we always seek to get the best results. But sometimes forget to plan or actually work on the task flow and end up losing our hope and vision to accomplish an easy looking task. So, to bring out our best, one should proceed with the right mind set, deep and regular research and planned analytical approach. This will help to plan ‘How’ effectively.

Whether a lawyer is representing a case/hearing or providing consultancy and/or doing a marketing activity to promote his/her practice area or firm, he wants to create opportunities to serve the society and live a better life. The days are gone when lawyering was only about representing the clients, providing consultation and winning cases for them and when lawyer were working as per the word of mouth strategy to reach their prospective clients. Today with the emergence of social media tools: LinkedIn, Twitter, Face Book, Blogs/Articles, attending Events, Webinars and Seminars as a speaker etc lawyers are branding themselves and attracting clients through these platform. With the emergence of professional organisation like ABA, NYSBA, SRA, Law Society, IBA the approach and thinking of legal fraternity has changed with the continuous practical training and rigorous improvement policies. Now, everyday lawyers are coming up with a strong and more planned strategies with a clear thought which helps them to improve their working style and thus upholds betterment of our society and indirectly helps in keeping the trust of people in the state and country law.

Draft n Craft specializes in outsourcing of legal and paralegal services. We have provided more than a handful of advanced solutions to various Solo Attorneys, General Counsels, Law Firms (Small to Mid sized)  in the U.K. and the U.S.A.; we take immense pleasure in serving all business needs, from the very basic legal undertakings to the most complex and farthest orientations. Contact Us