• Adami Geldenhuys

Remote Working; What Makes a Successful Law Firm? Trends in Office Space

A Brief Overview of Some of the Topics Featured in the October 2020 Issue of the Lexinfo Practice Management Alert

Remote Working

One of the ‘hot topics’ in practice management is off course remote working.

In her article, What will the post-pandemic law office look like? on the AttorneyatWork blog, Susan Hodes suggests: “When we collaborate and regularly share our ideas and thoughts, we are more productive. And I believe that some — but not all — of that collaboration needs to be face to face. A combination of physical and virtual will make us more productive — and our legal work product will reflect that.

Work relationships are the focus of Carson Tate’s article, Three strategies to stop unconsciously undermining relationships at work ( Attorney At Work, 14 October 2020).

Erica Pimental argues that employee evaluation and compensation should be adapted in view of remote working in her article, Remote work requires us to reconsider how to evaluate and pay employees (The Conversation, 12 October 2020).

Trends in Office Space

For the majority of law firms, one of the most significant areas of cost is office space. As a result of COVID, firms closing offices and adjusting to working from home, many firms are considering whether there is an opportunity for a triple win — to decrease costs and make positive strides on issues related to satisfaction in the workplace while maintaining or even improving productivity.” This is quoted from article by Roger Hayse, Law office space – lessons being learned (Managing Law Firm Transition, 6 October 2020). The article provides useful insights with several links to other articles relating to this subject.

Penelope Bremmer reports the following “Currently, most law firms spend 4% to 14% of revenue on office space. In light of positive experiences with remote working, many have begun downsizing or are planning to soon. According to a Cushman & Wakefield poll of over 900 participants from U.S. and global firms, only 20% expect no pandemic-related changes to their firm’s real estate portfolio, with the remainder expecting some reduction in office space.” In her article Law firms downsize office space amid COVID-19 (LegalTechMonitor, 29 Oct 2020.)

The Bright Insight 2020 National Legal Sector Webcast Live Polling Results conducted by Cushman & Wakefield asked the following COVID-impact related questions:

1. What are the greatest issues related to business competition that your firm is currently experiencing?

2. What percentage growth do you anticipate your firm to spend in technology costs in the coming two years?

3. Does your firm anticipate additional lawyer and/or staff layoffs in the coming months?

4. In response to COVID-19, to what degree do you expect your firm’s real estate portfolio square footage to shrink?

5. Due to COVID-19 and legal sector shifts, in the future, do you anticipate your firm’s workplace to change?

The polling results can be viewed at: https://www.abajournal.com/files/Webinar_polling_results.pdf

What Makes a Successful Law Firm?

The 2020 Dynamic Law Firms Reports by Thomson Reuters provides useful insights into what drives successful law firms or dynamic law firms. A copy of the report can be downloaded at: https://www.legalexecutiveinstitute.com/dynamic-law-firm-report-2020/.

Some of the issues consider are:

· Key performance measures;

· What drives demand?;

· Rates and rate realization;

· Investment in standout functions;

· Lawyers and their hours;

· The control of expenses.

The report identifies the following differentiators that help setting certain firms apart from others:

1. The consistent investment in marketing and business development to ensure a strong brand.

2. Business savvy lawyers. Business acumen is an important skill to develop at these firms.

3. Leaders with strong teams.

4. Leaders praised for their energy, vision and ability to execute their vision. The report mentions in this regard the following: ”Partners at Dynamic firms also cited their leaders’ energy. This energy is a secret weapon when it comes to inspiring people at the firm to continue to work towards their vision.”

5. A brand that creates confidence. These firms attract higher-value work and commands credibility in the boardroom.

6. Effective IT support functions.

7. Strong finance functions that help manage billing, budgeting and profitability analysis.

More information on the monthly Lexinfo Practice Management Alert is available at: http://www.lexinfo.co.za/lexinfo-practice-management-alert.


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