External Support Services: A Strategic Ally to Law Firms – Part 1

Mike Raposa

Mike Raposa

July 14, 2020

This post is the first in a three-part series.

Read part 02 & part 03

“Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.”

- Max McKeown, writer, consultant, and researcher specializing in innovation strategy

During a conversation with a colleague earlier this week, we compared recent discussions with our top AM Law business leaders and the takeaways were uncannily similar – the abrupt move to WFH arrangement was relatively glitch-free. One AM Law leader even noted, “I feel like the legal industry advanced 10 years in the past couple of months.” Each conversation left me both surprised and hopeful.

Law firms have historically discouraged remote working. But that is changing right before our eyes. Having spent nearly 10 years managing on-site operations for Big Law, I know the office culture well. My firm, like most, took pride in remaining open every day – holidays, blizzards, birthdays, hurricanes. And yet, somehow, in the middle of a pandemic, we were able to turn on a dime to a full-capacity remote working model.

Has COVID 19 Created a Dramatic Shift in Legal Support Operations?

The Band-Aid has certainly been ripped off. Attorneys have managed to find new and creative ways to get things done without localized support at the office. But now that a ‘return to the office’ is looming, will people be willing to return to the old ways, having tasted the flexibility and success of a home office environment? According to a study by Loeb Leadership, 67 percent of respondents report they would like their job to stay remote once it’s safe to return to the office, even if it’s only a few days a week.

Business leaders have hinted that the remote working model will have to be embraced but in order to do so, they have to consider some critical aspects of their operations:

  • As volumes and demand return, will a remote working strategy hold up under scrutiny?
    • How will they track productivity in a remote working environment?
    • Were processes mapped out to accommodate the imminent volume surges?
  • Security and compliance will be critical in a remote working scenario.
    • Keeping confidential information secure is critical and risky in a WFH scenario. How will firms track compliance in a steady-state environment?
  • What processes and resources were actually critical? What was not?
    • Non-essential overheads can be reinvested in the business to retain top talent.
    • What technology can be leveraged to promote digital working?

Going back to the quote at the beginning of this post,

Will firms adapt to meet social distancing requirements or will they adapt their operations to create a competitive advantage? Watch this space for more conversations around law firms in the new normal.

Read part 02 & part 03