Lawyers don’t want to spend time figuring out how to get work to a competent, properly skilled support team member. Firms want lawyers to prioritize billable hours and profit. This is an expensive and untenable stand-off.
For what it is worth, my experience here in Australia is that lawyers are more than happy to embrace working with Allied Professionals (my preferred term for ‘support staff’ and one I see Greg Lambert uses on The Geek In Review Podcast so it cannot be all that bad) and that most lawyers now work collaboratively with all parts of the law firm to maximise the profit of the business (while adhering to the firm’s values and social contribution).
To that end, my experience has been that most lawyers know very well who is in their support team or, at minimum, know who the quarter-back is who they can chuck the ball to (Legal Project Management 1-0-1 anyone??).
In short, it is not a one man game any longer (if it ever was), it’s a team sport and views like the one expressed by BigHand above are outdated. But, as always, these are just my views.
You often hear of medical patients getting a second opinion on the diagnoses they have been given, but how often do you hear a lawyer tell their client to seek a “second opinion“?
My guess – pretty rare.
But this is a topic raised in a post by Jordan Rotham on abovethelaw.com recently and certainly worthy of consideration. I particularly like Jordan’s comment that:
All told, no one likes to be judged by another professional, and it can be annoying to answer questions and furnish materials so a client can get a second opinion. However, attorneys and clients alike should be more open to second opinions so that lawyers can provide the best representation possible.
In the article Roy sets out the following two reasons for why lawyers may be reluctant to increase their rates:
Reason No. 1: Fear of Losing Business to Competitors
Reason No. 2: Fear of Missing Out on New Clients
I’m going to put it out there and say Roy is right here, lawyers are scared/fearful of both those issues.
But, and there is always a but, only if they adopt competitor pricing – where they are always looking over their shoulder to see what their competitors in the market are charging.
My own thoughts on this issue though are this: Know your product; Understand your value; and Don’t give a damn about anyone else – you don’t have competitors, you have customers; always show them the value of your service and they will remain loyal to you. Period.
Which, to be fair, is kind of what Roy is also saying. So go over and read it – it’ll take you all of 10 minutes and it’s certainly worth it.
Any law firm looking for innovative, ‘out-of-the-box’ ways to retain their lawyers during this period now known as The Great Resignation could do a lot worse than take onboard a Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath midlevel associate’s comments on the billable hour in the recently published American Lawyer’s 2022 Midlevel Associate Survey:
The billable hour is a cancer that will slowly eat away at you if you don’t get away from it quickly enough.
Almost 10 years ago, when Apple were going hard on developing and expanding their App Store, I recall saying to my Managing Partner at that time that the days of websites were numbered and we needed to look for a new way to promote our expertise with our target audience.
Fast forward 10 years and I’m at a different law firm and websites are still very prominent as the online window for law firms to highlight their expertise – telling you that I know nothing!
My quote of the week is a comment I read by Nick Perry, Managing Partner, Bird & Bird in the latests LexisNexis publication ‘The Laws of Organic Growth‘:
“Clients are coming to us with problems which cannot always be solved by lawyers and so it’s becoming more and more common for teams of lawyers to collaborate with other professional staff to co-create client solutions.”