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Rising tides of change

by Rachel Brushfield | November 03, 2015

This is a guest blog for LawNet by Rachel Brushfield, founder and director of EnergiseLegal. Rachel is doing 2 breakout sessions at the LawNet Annual Conference on Friday 6 November 2015 on the impact of GenY on the law firm.

"When the winds of change blow, some people build windmills, other people build walls.”

Human capital is not only the highest cost of a law firm, it is typically its only source of competitive advantage.

In an increasingly competitive and uncertain world, law firms’ heartlands are being eroded from all sides by technology replacing tasks and some roles and new market entrants from the UK and abroad. This is set to increase.

Law firms now have up to 5 different generations working alongside each other in a firm, generations with very different values, motivations, needs, wants and expectations. This creates many challenges but also opportunities. The old traditional ways of working have passed their shelf life for the younger generation.

Attracting, developing and retaining the best legal minds has never been so vital to create and protect a competitive advantage and there is more competition than ever before for the best talent. Traditionally Partners have had to do everything; fee earn, project manage, supervise young lawyers etc. Does this make sense with shrinking equity and pressure intensifying for fixed fees? There is no other profession where a senior manager is expected to be competent in such a wide range of different areas.

It is time to rethink and change long held policies, processes and attitudes or firms will fail to attract, develop and keep the best legal talent. Specialist law firm management can be a useful asset or assigning different law firm management roles playing to individual Partner strengths and preferences.

Change is unavoidable; the question is not if, it is when, how and by whom.

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