There is much talk and opinion around the impact that the introduction of ABSs is going to have on the legal profession. Much of this has been fairly high level talk and assumptions around increased competition, different business models, the perceived threats of “Tesco Law” and how lawyers need to change. However, this discussion came down a level as to how this may practically impact upon individual lawyers at the recent “The Lawyer’s Annual HR Strategy Conference”. In one presentation, it was suggested that the way lawyers are remunerated needs to be revisited. HR director Charlie Keeling of Waterhouse Field Fisher said that “PQE is a misused and misunderstood metric that drives behaviours which aren’t helpful for driving growth.”

So how are law firms going to structure reward packages in the future? Do both law firms and individual lawyers know enough about the actual and long term value which individuals add over and above billable hours? If so, how is this measured and rewarded?

It seems that one firm has considered ways in which to do this – The Lawyer reported that staff at Eversheds are being given the chance to win a £20,000 cash prize for coming up with a pioneering business idea. www.thelawyer.com/eversheds-to-pay-staff-for-top-bd-ideas/1004539.article

There is no doubt that change is coming (again!) and there is more than a mere suggestion that lawyers will need to improve their business skills in areas such as CRM and client rapport, marketing and cross selling, people development and management and leadership. These are not skills we are taught directly at law school although frequently we find through practice that we are naturally good at some (or even all) of these aspects; we don’t always realise we are using them or don’t use them in a deliberate and targeted way.

  •  Lawyers – are you aware of the additional skills you can offer to help your firm through this challenging time? If so, have you shared these with your firm?
  • Law firms – do you know or have you asked what other skills you have within your firm and are you maximising these skills to your advantage?

There is a suggestion that many firms are burying their heads in the sand in relation to the changes which could result from the LSA 2007. I truly hope that this is not the case and that firms are looking at the opportunities which this could bring; albeit, they are doing this in a quiet and considered way (as we lawyers are wont to do!) One thing is certain, in that any changes will affect us all and we should all feel empowered to contribute to the future of the legal business whether we are a junior lawyer or managing partner.

Darwin said “It’s not the strongest that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change”.

Michaela Hardwick of Beyond Expectation is a Legal Performance Coach who helps lawyers and law firms to find their own solutions through insightful questioning and listening techniques. Having worked in practice for 12 years as a Solicitor and Quality Manager, Michaela is only too aware of the challenges facing lawyers. All coaching offered by Beyond Expectation is accredited for CPD points by the SRA. Find out more at www.beyond-expectation.co.uk or by emailing michaela@beyond-expectation.co.uk or calling 0121 288 6002.

 Beyond Expectation working in Partnership with eNL Ltd