The Covid-19 crisis has triggered the need for legal advisory services for cross-sector corporations struggling with either corporate governance challenges, supply chain shortfalls or restructuring strategy to ensure future readiness. Law firms’ currently lean business development and competitive intelligence functions are tasked with delivering critical research support to Partners and attorneys. Do Law Firms have access to timely and relevant intelligence necessary to make impactful business decisions when clients need it the most? Are law firms distracted from finding new opportunities, especially across companies showing signs of distress?
Increased need for legal advisory services amidst a crisis
Law firms traditionally, and inevitably, witness a sudden tightening of their client’s wallet at the beginning of a crisis. As a result, focus on retaining work often distracts from finding new opportunities elsewhere in the business ecosystem. Law firms need to move swiftly, as businesses across the board look for survival and recovery-related advisory services now more than ever.
In short term, clients would want to know about labor laws, decode government announcements, manage cybersecurity and data privacy concerns, and handle contract-related issues such as invoking force majeure. Additionally, clients need legal advice on corporate governance issues especially in virtual work settings, or material adverse change and exit clauses with mergers and acquisitions deals underway, or on restructuring strategy.
In mid-term, clients learning from this disruptive period would focus on strengthening their businesses going forward. Clients would seek legal guidance, either on how to deal with the downturn on the business or to take advantage of a business opportunity, be it through restructuring services, or mergers and acquisitions, or through understanding the impact of swiftly changing regulations.
Do Partners/Attorneys have access to timely and relevant intelligence?
Corporate clients want law firms that understand their company and industry. Business intelligence (BI) and competitive intelligence (CI) are key in achieving that. Law firms that cannot produce sufficient and insightful BI and CI put their business development initiatives at risk.
Over the last few years, there has been a significant increase in attorneys relying on marketing teams to complete not only marketing and business development (BD) tasks, but also BI and CI tasks that each require massive research support.
A survey by Prism Legal in 2019, on top tasks asked by attorneys, puts CI in 2nd place at 31% and (BI) following close behind at 30%. Even then, law firms have lean BD teams and/or non-existent CI teams. As per the survey, firms of 300+ attorneys have 2.5 FTEs for BI/CI against 8.5 FTEs for marketing and BD each. Furthermore, 43% of law firms surveyed, had no staff dedicated to the BI/CI function.
The current crisis makes it amply clear that the marketing and BD teams in law firms need to swiftly scale up on capability and capacity, as partners/attorneys seek timely BI and CI now more than ever, to draw actionable insights and help clients make impactful business decisions.
Additionally, BI and CI are most effective when treated as an ongoing process for regular monitoring and current awareness in a programmatic way, rather than in a piecemeal reactive approach.
There’s no question then that technology-enabled solutions are vital in bridging the gap and offering much needed agility to BD teams in this current environment.
The current crisis will accelerate the pace of change in the way traditional law firms operate around digitization and automation mandates.
An efficient intelligence program should combine human capital and technology
Law Firms may have access to tools that promise to provide intelligence by implementing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies.
However, these tools are far from delivering intelligence that can call for action as the sheer quantity of information can overwhelm BD professionals with data that is inconsistent, sometimes irrelevant, and almost always disconnected, which slows progress.
Therefore, Law Firms need to find solutions that not only leverage technology but combine it with human intelligence. This will act as the growth engine Law Firms need to scale their business development activities across practices and functions.
Insights generated should be accessible at the last mile
Oftentimes insights are lost or isolated in static spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations that are not accessible to Partners when in front of the clients, where they need them the most. An efficient insight generation platform should directly equip Partners, anywhere and on any device, with timely insights needed to make impactful business decisions. In other words, the solution should have the ability to disseminate insights to the last mile on any device, lowering response time and giving power to end-users right where they are presenting their pitch to prospective clients. Additionally, users should have the ability to slice and dice data through visual interactive dashboards.
In summary, Partners looking to identify newer opportunities, especially in providing advisory to companies showing signs of distress ,should provide BD/CI teams with technology-enabled solutions that combine the power of mind+machine™ to provide timely and relevant intelligence. In an unprecedented business ecosystem triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, intelligence needs to call for action while also anticipating threats and opportunities alike.
To learn how Evalueserve’s cloud-based AI platform, Insightsfirst for Law Firms, leverages mind+machine™ to provide actionable insights for your business development needs, write to PS@Evalueserve.com.