podcast: minutes 1.2 – Business Link Interview (Pt1)

Posted by | Filed under podcast | Nov 15, 2010 | Tags: , | No Comments

Welcome to the first free CPD podcast from legal edge. Sally talks to Lily Newman and Dave Cheetham from Business Link North West about the services they have available for legal practices. Enjoy!

legal edge minutes 1.2 – Business Link Interview (Pt1) from legal edge on Vimeo.

Please get in contact with us so your CPD point is on record using the ‘Contact’ tab above. Get in touch with us if you have any questions or discussion points.

additional income generators #1

In the challenging market we all find ourselves in, sources of new income are always on the agenda.  One recent development in the UK market which has caught legal edge’s eye are the online legal answers portals which are emerging.

Many of the new entrants to the legal services market are spending a lot of resource on trying to uncover the lucrative “latent market”.  That is to say those potential clients who would not ordinarily seek out legal advice because of various factors, but most significantly due to their perceptions around the time and cost.  CPP for instance are busy making significant headway into this market with their “legal triage” products.

However the question is, how can lawyers get into this marketplace.  One option is to register with a company that has already built the infrastructure.  Legal Edge have been speaking to one such organisation, www.expert-answers.co.uk.  Their concept is taken from the States, where is has proven extremely successful.  A visitor to the website with a legal question simply types it in, and then waits for one of the online experts to provide a reply.  The fee structures are set up to allow the customer to decide on the value of the answer.

“What appears to be attractive to our customers is the ease of use of our interface”, says director Lloyd Barrett.  ” If visitors to the site have a legal query, all they need to do in the first instance is to type in the question. There is no requirement for pre-registration, or to leave a number for someone to call them back.”

The Experts who are answering these questions are lawyers who have registered with the site.

Its easy to see how this type of portal could be a significant additional income generator for lawyers (as it has been in the States), and may be attractive to sole practitioners in particular.

Expert Answers are still actively recruiting lawyers onto their panel of experts.  If you are interested in registering then visit www.expert-answers.co.uk/register_expert.php quoting Legal Edge.

oscre oscre bravo

In the current challenging market conditions, IT is one of the great levellers of competition in the legal services market place.  And for IT systems to be effective, standardisation is the key.

Those of you working in the field of conveyancing may well have come across Oscre (or Pisces as it was known as in a former life).   We’d advise any property practitioners to have a look at the work they’re involved with in more detail – see www.oscre.org.  They’re a not-for-profit organisation and their primary focus is on developing electronic standards for the exchange of information regarding property.

Legal Edge have been speaking to Stephen Spooner, the Exec Chair of Oscre.  At the moment he’s busy with their latest initiative – the Lease Summary Project, but this is just one of any number of projects which Oscre are involved with.  Stephen explained that the benefits of Oscre are open to all organisations, not matter how large or small.  They’re always keen to welcome new members, and interested to hear about suggested initiatives.  There’s also a vast library of work from previous project available to members.

If you’re in the business of property, and are working to develop more streamlined workflows with key stakeholders, then this could well be the resource for you.

lawyer displacement… fact or fiction?

Legal futures has reported this week on Lord Falconer’s enthusiasm for “delawyering” personal injury cases, embracing the commoditised model.  At legal edge, we’ve been talking to lawyers for some time about this and have coined a different expression – “lawyer displacement” – but to all intents and purposes it means the same thing.

The evolution of the non reserved legal services market and the legislative changes we are in the midst of means that those organisations with cash to throw at the problem have already gone a long way down the road of commoditising their legal processes.  And the by-product of all this commoditising is that lawyers become superflous to requirement for a great deal of the workflow.

“Is my job at risk of displacement?” is a question we regularly get asked.  Well, if there is any element of your daily working life which is repetitive in its nature then the answer is yes I’m afraid.  The culprit of all this displacement is predominantly IT.  There is also a significant degree of legal and business process outsourcing, but the providers of these systems will often have more sophisticated IT systems themselves to allow them to be able to offer their processes at a more cost effective rate than the outsourcer can deliver internally.  This is particularly true of the onshore LPO business models.


client delighters #1: tiered legal services

Developing new client-centric products

Its worth any legal practice spending some time investigating the types of consumer centric products which are emerging into the legal services market place.  They are grounded in detailed market research and generally developed by large existing commercial organisations who can draw on their resources and scalability.  That is not to say that their approach cannot be a success for existing high street practitioners.

The traditional legal service provider (ie solicitors’ practice), for the most part offer a single level of product, following, more or less the same structure each time.  The firm’s charging rates are stepped to enable more experienced lawyers to leverage higher fees.

More modern providers have recognised that consumers have a more sophisticated  appetite for legal products.  The one-size-fits all approach is no longer effective.

Tiered legal services

And so we have seen the development in recent years of “tiered legal products”.  Tiered products offer choice to the consumer.  They provide legal information and forms at a low base entry cost (or even for free) to clients who require this lower level of support, with increased costs only being levied for clients who want someone else to do the leg work for them, who are not confident enough to manage the process themselves, or where the matter is complex enough to warrant a more bespoke service.


Conveyancing is dead, long live conveyancing?

According to the Law Society Gazette this week, the impact of Lloyds volume based threshold for membership on their conveyancing panel has resulted in approx 2,500 firms being dropped – that’s approximately 1/3 of all firms dealing with conveyancing.

So, another nail in the coffin of high street conveyancing. Removal from major lenders’ panels, effectively means the end of the road for any conveyancing department. The position is not set to improve in 2011. We are now only 13 months away from ABS day.

However, we are where we are. And where that is, is at a significant crossroads for the delivery of conveyancing services in England and Wales. The relevant question for law firms to be asking is not “where did it all go wrong” but “where is the future”?


keeping up with the Smiths

Studying how other industries promote their businesses can be a real quick win for legal practices.  Our advice is to forget what your competitors are doing, and think laterally.

The restrictions on advertising which our profession has previously been constrained by mean that in general, we are still very much playing a game of catch up with the rest of the commercial world.  Quality Solicitors are about to launch their TV advertising this week: still a relatively quirky approach to promoting legal services.  Amazing in this day and age!  Hats off to them and all their endeavours to save the brand of solicitors.


how healthy is your H&S?

Are you confident that your firm is complying with Heath and Safety obligations?  In our experience, its an area which is often overlooked, leaving firms and their employees potentially exposed.  Its another one of those “wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat” areas for law firms bosses.

The obligations on employers are clear.  The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 2.2.c. requires the provision of “such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees”.  For most practices, this involves external expertise and training to skill-up managers.

If this is a gap you are concerned about, Legal Edge have manage secured discounted rates from Theseus Safety Training Limited for their “Managing safely” courses.   This is a four day course designed to get managers up to speed on the practical actions they need to take to effectively handle health and safety in their teams and comply with their legal requirements.

The next course runs from 31 Aug – 3rd Sept.  If you’d like more information, please contact Bob Barlow, director at Theseus on 01782 770 999 and quote “legal edge” to access the discounts.  But be quick, the closing date for this course date is next Tuesday 24th August.

the hourly rate: going going gone?

Fees are back on the agenda again this week with the announcement from Cameron McKenna that they have launched an alternative billing campaign for existing and future clients; including an option for clients themselves to decide how much they want to pay, based on their perception of the value of the services they receive. Its a move which has prompted a significant amount of debate.

But the trend towards reengineering legal fees should come as no surprise. There has been talk for some considerable time as to whether the shelf life of the hourly rate is close to expiry. At Legal Edge, we don’t necessarily think this is the case, but Cameron McKenna’s creative approach to providing options to their clients regarding the structure of fees is not only generating them a huge amount of press, but their innovation will also inevitably result in more clients.

In the spirit of client led legal fees, some of you will also have seen the new internet bidding site, bid4fees.co.uk.

clc set to become regulator of choice?

Posted by | Filed under ABSs, clc, firm, innovation, risk management, sra | Aug 4, 2010 | Tags: , , , | No Comments

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers have just issued a consultation on their proposed draft code of conduct.  See http://bit.ly/bSBqWX.

We all know that the CLC regulate conveyancing and probate work.  However, their application to add advocacy and litigation services to this remit expands their presence into the majority of “reserved activities”, effectively putting them on the same playing field as the SRA.


abs ABSs advertising alternative business structures back office bespoke BPO brand business link case management clc clients conveyancing delegation fees health and safety hourly rate innovation insurance IT ken clarke latent market Law Society Gazette lawyer displacement lawyers legal lenders linkedin liverpool law society Lloyds LPO lsa management open-source personal injury podcast practice sales scanning service solicitors sra tiered legal products training workflow