We have observed some interesting phenomena in our drive to convert law firms from legacy software to the NuLaw legal case management application. Among them is the reality that law firm partners do not see themselves as business executives. They see themselves only as attorneys. While such a mindset is certainly understandable, it is not helpful to success in the 21st-century.
The law has evolved since the days of Lincoln and small-town practices. It has become an industry that depends on tried-and-true business principles to survive. Yet law firm partners that do not see themselves as business executives are not likely to keep their practices on the cutting edge of business methods and technologies.
It has been our experience that such scenarios are not good. As such, we make it a practice of trying to educate partners about their roles as business executives. The more business minded partners are, the more successful their practices tend to be. To that end, we have put together a few suggestions for how partners can be more like business executives.
Embrace Data and Technology
Both data and technology are big drivers in modern business. Just about every other sector of the economy is so data hungry that they continue to look for new ways to collect and analyze data. Everything is about data, data, data. Even the staid old American pastime of baseball is now driven by data and analytics.
Making use of all that data is a matter of embracing the right technologies. Everything from deep learning to artificial intelligence takes raw data and makes it applicable. For the law firm partner, this could prove invaluable. Data and technology can transform a law firm from a follower to an industry leader. What does this say to partners? It says they should embrace data and technology.
Give Attention to Business Metrics
It is easy to measure the success of a law firm by the number of high-profile cases it wins. But cases alone do not make for long-term success. In today’s data-driven world, business metrics are equally important. This is why we advise law firm partners to give as much attention to business metrics as they do case outcomes.
Business metrics are a lot like key performance indicators. They tell a law firm how the business side of things is going. Business metrics incorporate all sorts of data generated by the billing, accounting, marketing, and IT teams. And when a firm chooses the NuLaw case management application, all of those business metrics are built into a single cloud-based platform.
Look for Blind Spots
Running any kind of business is a lot like driving an 18-wheeler. There are lots of natural blind spots that can make it exceedingly difficult for management to get a clear picture of what is going on. Finding ways to overcome those blind spots keeps things on track and reduces risks.
Law firm partners can help themselves and their businesses by looking for blind spots. What are some of the data points missing in monthly and quarterly reports? How are staff attorneys doing above and beyond generating billable hours? These are the sorts of questions partners should be asking in their search to identify blind spots.
Acting like a business executive requires a change of mindset. We get that it is difficult for partners who have always seen themselves only as attorneys. We are doing our part by educating partners and giving them a case management tool that’s perfectly suited to transforming a law firm from just a place where lawyers do their work into a thriving business.