law firms.. do you have a BPR function yet? If not, why not?

Its not just the looming ABS threat which is having an impact on the types of jobs cropping up in law firms these days.  There has been a steady creep of roles borrowed from the commercial world into legal practices over the course of the last decade plus. Business Development roles for example are commonplace, and even on the high street, there are few practices without a practice manager.  Of course, how long these posts will be described as support functions once we are well and truly in the world of ABSs is a moot point (but that’s a debate for another day).

One role which is vital for legal practices, and which is missing in most, is a business process improvement manager.

Why?  Well to be frank, most law firms have never spent time analysing the way they do their work.  The practice of law is, if you like, the ultimate legacy system.  Changes to process are, in general reactionary (to a change in the law, or a new protocol for instance), rather than proactive.  As the commericalisation of law continues, however, this approach has to change. Simply relying on the next release from their case management provider will not be enough for most legal firms.

Be assured that the new ABS entrants will not be constrained at all by how law has been done in the past.  They will have the luxury of taking a blank sheet approach – quite literally reinventing the wheel.  And their business savvy approach will mean that what is done and how it is processed will need to justify its existence in any legal process moving forwards.

And this is good news for existing lawyers looking to diversify away from fee earning.  The most effective legal business process redesigners must have a strong technical and “coal face” understanding of the processes in question.   Working closely with IT departments and suppliers is imperative, along with key stakeholders in the industry, plus clients and suppliers.  The rewards for firms embracing the proposition that they can (always) improve how they deliver law, are not only internal savings and efficiencies, but real differentiators from their competitors.

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