Jeff Wolf, President, RCC
Time to read: 2 minutes
When it comes to the future of your firm, the following action steps are critical for long-term success.
- We are living in a VUCA world…volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. The firm of tomorrow will have to be agile, innovative, adaptable and flexible to compete.
- Succession planning is imperative. Most firms are currently led by baby boomers. Without appropriate preparation, some firms will find themselves with a leadership void after boomers are gone. In a 2014 survey of 85 managing partners, only 5% of respondents said they have a documented Succession Plan. Your firm's survival may very well depend upon coming to terms with succession and transition issues - and doing so right now.
- Technology will cause law firms to become more efficient and improve internal processes and procedures as clients force fees down. In addition, lawyers will have to become effective business people as the new world of lawyering will require the successful lawyer to have a firm grasp of business management. To effectively provide legal services to clients, it is essential that lawyers understand the business problems and challenges that clients face—and then recognize how to link their services to help meet those problems and challenges.
- Lawyers will have to spend more time on business development and it will become a critical component to the long-term success of firms as client loyalty declines and competition increases. Additionally, other professional service firms will take a share of the business (An Altman Weil survey noted that, in 2015, 16% of respondents reported using alternative providers, a jump of 12 percentage points from 2012). Firms will have to continually monitor and assess client satisfaction and one-on-one coaching programs will be needed to develop a crucial set of business development skills that every effective lawyer must have.
- Millennials: by 2025 they will make up 75% of the workforce. Recent surveys of Millennials highlight differences between the boomer’s views on work and their view on work. As a firm, one of your primary responsibilities is attracting and retaining lawyers, especially talented ones. Every firm will have to learn to make adjustments to get the most from—and give the most to—the vast population of younger associates.
- Mentoring programs will become a priority. The better the mentoring program the more profitable the firm. While firms understand the importance of a mentoring program, the biggest problem they face is that many senior lawyers don’t have the skill sets or time to be an effective mentor. Without a successful program, firms will run the risk of losing the millennials they are trying to attract which is the future of the firm. Research studies have clearly indicated the number one reason associates (millennials) leave a law firm is the absence of a mentoring program. A good mentoring program fosters loyalty, improves retention and reduces recruiting costs. Firms will be able to attract better talent and that talent will stay. Mentoring programs also help ensure that new associates have a well-rounded training that reflects what is valued in the firm, because those associates are the firm’s future.
- People: competition will be fierce and law firms will have to become a firm of choice by attracting, developing and engaging their people to build a firm that meets ever changing business needs. The Wall Street Journal reports that, by 2020, there is likely to be a shortage of approximately 40 million high-skilled workers around the world. Which means you will need to rely on developing and promoting current employees instead of finding outside talent to meet the needs of your firm. Your current employees are your biggest asset and you need to better understand the full range of skills they possess. So how do you assess the skill sets of current employees and who owns the development of your workforce starting now so you’re ready by the end of the decade?
- Strategic planning will pave the way for the future success of law firms. If you want to be more profitable and survive in the VUCA world, firms need to create and execute good strategy, for it is strategy more than anything else which give you sustainable success. It helps firms and individuals stay ahead of change and profit from it. It will become a necessity for any firm wanting to maximize opportunities, minimize risk and see good returns on investments of people, time and money. In some situations, it may even be the key to survival.
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